The Commission on Audit (COA) said state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) violated different laws and regulations when it granted P291-million worth of hazard pay to its employees illegally.
Aside from violation of Republic Act 7305 or the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers (PHW), PhilHealth also violated the 2016 Joint Circular issued by the Budget and Health department, which lists the following as hazardous areas:
- patient wards, intensive care units, operating rooms, outpatient departments, and other medical departments where public health workers are in contact with patients with contagious and communicable diseases and handle hospital paraphernalia used by patients such as linen, food, utensils, bedpan, etc.;
- radiation-exposed areas such as laboratories and service workshops;
- chemical and medical laboratories;
- prison camps and institutions for mental health;
- drug abuse drop-in centers or rehabilitation centers;
- work areas where rescue operations/evacuations are carried out due to calamities and health emergencies;
- highly disease-infected and vector-infested areas;
- work areas involving the handling and/or spraying of insecticides, molluscicides, pesticides, and other hazardous chemicals;
- health-related establishments located in embattled or strife-torn areas as may be declared and certified by the Department of National Defense authorities concerned; among others
COA: PhilHealth violates laws on granting hazard pay
Moreover, COA flagged PhilHealth for repeatedly granting such hazard pay to its employees even if such payment has been the subject of disallowance from 2011 to 2015 for lack of legal basis.
“Despite the disallowance, PhilHealth has been continuously granting hazard pay since 2016,” COA pointed out.
COA recommended the following measures to PhilHealth concerning its violations on granting hazard pay:
- strictly adhere to the IRR of RA No. 7305 or the Magna Carta of PHWs and DBM-DOH JC No. 1, s. 2016, in the grant of hazard pay; and
- identify and determine the specific positions that are eligible to receive hazard pay with descriptions as to actual exposure to occupational risk/perils to life and submit the required list of personnel duly reviewed and approved by the Secretary of Health to the audit team for verification.