Cebu News

CLO denies plea for “hazard pay”

Alicia Chua - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu City Legal Office (CLO) had denied the request of two Cebu City employees for hazard pay for public health workers (PHW).

This, after the Office of the City Accountant and Human Resource Development Office sought the legal opinion on the request of Dr. Alice Utlang and Annalyn Calungsud, who occupy position at the Department of Veterinary Marine Fisheries (DVMF), on hazard pay for PHW, despite being reassigned to the Cebu City Resource Management and Development Center (CREMDEC).

Lawyer Rey Gealon, city legal officer, said that in response to the City Accountant's query on whether or not Utlang, who used to head the DVMF but was now reassigned as CREMDEC head designate for campus development, can avail of the hazard pay as she requested, the CLO opines in the negative.

“Law and jurisprudence dictates that the reckoning for a public health worker to be entitled to hazard pay must be that of her actual assignment in the work areas enumerated under the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (RIRR) and not by mere DOH Certification which was issued in her favor only on May of this year,” said Gealon.

As stated in the letter of City Accountant’s office dated on November 15, 2019 the claimants Utlang and Calungsud were reassigned to CREMDEC on July 10, and July 29, 2019, respectively.

And in the certification of the DOH secretary, dated May 2019, it only covers the personnel of DVMF, so by July 2019 the certification has ceased to be valid since they are already under the office of CREMDEC.

Section 7.1.4(c) of the RIRR of RA 7305 otherwise known as "The Magna Carta of Public Health Workers" provides that the mayor may grant hazard pay only if the employee is working in a hazardous work assignment.

“Not in this situation of Dr. Alice Utlang. The location of CREMDEC is far from these circumstances and, in fact, a breath of fresh air for the good doctor,” said Gealon.

“The case of Gawad vs Abad is instructive on this point that hazard pay may be granted when the nature of their duties and responsibilities, their actual services and location of work, expose them to great danger, occupational risks, perils to life and physical hardships,” he added.

Gealon also said that although the city veterinarian and meat inspector III are classified as PHW, the position alone does not entitle its occupant to hazard pay if the employee is not actually exposed to radiation, communicable, contagious, infectious and biological hazards. (FREEMAN)

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