MANILA - The daughter of former Sen. Heherson Alvarez, who succumbed to COVID-19, apologized on Wednesday for her brother's 'honest error' on the cost of their father's hospitalization, saying that P8 million is "factually incorrect."
In a letter sent to ABS-CBN News, Xilca Alvarez-Protacio said their family had not paid P8 million for the hospitalization of her late father, as well as of their mother, Cecile, due to COVID-19.
In an interview with radio DZMM on Tuesday, April 21, her brother Hexilon said their family had paid the amount and was hoping to receive reimbursement from the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Alvarez-Protacio said her brother "made some assumptions based on outdated information," for which she is pleading for understanding and forgiveness as "he (like the rest of my family) is very distraught over our dad's demise."
"I hope you can forgive him for his honest error," she said.
According to Alvarez-Protacio, while she "cannot be certain as to the amount" of their father's hospitalization, she was told "it was tentatively somewhere in the neighborhood of almost PHP 5 million (without the Senior Citizen's discount being factored in yet).
The hospital also did not ask them to settle her father's bill as the facility's priority at that time was to release the remains of the late lawmaker as soon as possible so he could be cremated immediately, she added.
"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. This, too, was a tremendous relief, as it allowed me to focus my efforts on arranging for my father’s cremation," Alvarez-Protacio said.
She said Manila Doctors Hospital did not charge them as well for her mother's approximately P2 million hospitalization cost since it was shouldered by PhilHealth.
She hailed the hospital for being "professional and kind to my family." She thanked the hospital and PhilHealth, too.
In correcting her brother's initial statement, Alvarez-Protacio said, "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 anxiety over how to pay for the hospitalization expenses."
"Hearing the news about my parents' bills, or that we are hoping to be 'reimbursed' by PhilHealth (which implies that we had to pay them), can only make the suffering of these other families worse," she said.
She said they had even received offers of donations from well-meaning individuals, but stressed these "are far, far better directed to others who need them more."
"To be completely honest, I would much rather that my dad’s life be celebrated for the advocacies he championed and that he be remembered for the good things he did in his lifetime, rather than for this distraction that my brother’s error had inadvertently caused," Alvarez-Protacio said.
Alvarez, 80, and Cecile, 76, were admitted on March 24 at the Manila Doctors Hospital due to COVID-19.
Cecile, founder of the Philippine Educational Theater Association, was discharged on April 15 after her condition improved, according to Alvarez-Protacio.
Last week, Alvarez underwent the experimental convalescent plasma therapy for the COVID-19. He died on Monday.
Aside from being a Senator, Alvarez was Secretary of the Agrarian Reform and of the Environment. He also opposed the Marcos dictatorial rule.