(Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article, published on April 21, 2020, quoted Hexilon Alvarez as saying that the hospital bill of his father, the late former Sen. Heherson Alvarez who succumbed to COVID-19 last Monday, amounted to some P8 million. On Wednesday, Xilca Alvarez-Protacio, Hexilon's brother, clarified with ABS-CBN News that the tentative bill was 'somewhere in the neighborhood of almost P5 million,' and that it hasn't been settled. This article is a revised version to reflect the new set of information from Ms. Alvarez-Protacio.)
MANILA (UPDATE) - The "tentative" hospital bill of former Sen. Heherson "Sonny" Alvarez, who succumbed to COVID-19 on Monday, amounted to almost P5 million, his daughter said Wednesday.
Alvarez, 80, and his wife Cecile, 76, were admitted on March 24 at the Manila Doctor's Hospital due to the disease, according to their son Hexilon.
Cecile, founder of the Philippine Educational Theater Association, was discharged on April 15 after her condition improved, daughter Xilca Alvarez-Protacio told ABS-CBN News in a letter Wednesday.
Alvarez-Protacio said her father's bill "was tentatively somewhere in the neighborhood of almost P5 million (without the Senior Citizen's discount being factored in yet)," while that of her mother's was approximately P2 million.
In an interview with radio DZMM on Tuesday, Hexilon said, "Nakikiisa ako sa mga biktima ng COVID-19. Helpless talaga, tapos yung gastos pa, napakalaki. Kahit kami ay nahirapan po sa gastos. Hindi rin naman po kami saksakan ng may pera."
Alvarez-Protacio said Manila Doctors Hospital did not charge them for her mother's bill as the entire amount was shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
PhilHealth earlier assured COVID-19 patients admitted before April 15 that it will reimburse their hospitalization cost.
As for the late senator's bill, Alvarez-Protacio said the hospital has assured her it was not a priority and that it will discuss it with PhilHealth.
"Manila Doctors did NOT ask us to settle my dad's bills, as their priority at that time was to release his remains as soon as possible so that he could be cremated immediately," she said.
"Moreover, Manila Doctors was kind enough to reassure me that the bills were not a priority, that they would discuss these with PhilHealth, and that they would release his remains immediately."
She said the hospital "did not even volunteer the amount of his bill, and they gave me an estimate only because I had prodded them to."
Correcting her brother's initial statement, Alvarez-Protacio said "there is nothing for PhilHealth to 'reimburse' my family."
Alvarez-Protacio said she is clarifying her brother's "honest error" during Tuesday's radio interview, for which she is hoping for understanding and forgiveness because he is "very distraught over our dad's demise," to spare Manila Doctors Doctors and PhilHealth from any embarrassment or problems.
"I am also concerned for others who are where we were weeks ago - not only distressed because our loved ones were on the brink of death, but also crippled by the anxiety over how to pay for the hospitalization expenses," she said.
The late senator's remains were cremated Monday night in compliance with the health department's protocol while his wife will remain under isolation until May 1, Hexilon said during the DZMM interview.
Hexilon thanked the public for their support to his family, and frontliners who help battle the pandemic.
"Sa mga frontliners, maraming, maraming salamat din, mga bayani," he said.
"Seryosohin po natin itong COVID-19, hindi ito biro, traydor to na sakit. Hindi dapat ginagawang parang wala lang."