May 31, 2010
RTC: PAY P490M HAZARD PAY
By Francis Allan L. Angelo
THE Regional Trial Court (RTC) ordered the Iloilo provincial government to pay the hazard pay of health workers which could amount to almost half a billion pesos.
In a decision issued May 24, 2010, Judge Ma. Yolanda Panaguiton-Gaviño of RTC Branch 34 said the more than 1,000 health workers under the provincial government are entitled to hazard pay and subsistence allowance.
The court cited provisions of Republic Act 7305 (Magna Carta for Health Workers) which mandates the said benefits.
The law requires that health workers “shall be compensated hazard allowance equivalent to at least 25% of the monthly basic salary of health workers receiving salary grade 19 and below, and 5% for health workers with salary grade 20 and above.”
The Iloilo Health Workers’ Association, which has 1,003 members, filed the mandamus case against the provincial government headed by Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.
The workers claimed that the Capitol failed to pay their hazard pay and subsistence allowance amounting to P55 million yearly since 2004 to 2009.
In sum, the health workers are demanding a total of P490 million from the provincial government for their hazard pay and subsistence allowance.
Gov. Tupas had refused to pay the benefits citing lack of funds on the part of the provincial government. He also questioned if devolved workers are entitled to such emoluments.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan attempted to insert P55 million in the 2009 budget for the hazard pay and subsistence allowance of health workers.
Vice Governor Rolex Suplico, appropriations committee chair, earlier slashed more than P100 million from the proposed 2009 budget submitted by his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr.
Most of the slashed funds were budgets for the capital outlay and maintenance and other expenses of various capitol departments under the Office of the Governor.
Suplico said the failure of department heads to appear and defend their respective budgets before the budget hearings prompted him to decrease their appropriations.
The SP then set aside P55 million of the un-appropriated balance for the hazard pay and other benefits of public health workers in the province.
Suplico defended the hazard pay saying it is a statutory obligation of the provincial government because it is embodied in the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
But the Department of Budget and Management struck down the P55-million because it was not included in the proposed budget.
The budgeting manual issued by the DBM to local governments prohibits the realignment of funds to new items that were not contained in the original proposal of the executive department.