(Editor's note: ABS-CBN News is publishing this letter from the daughter of the late Sen. Heherson Alvarez, Xilca Alvarez-Protacio, rectifying what her brother, Hexilon, said in an interview with DZMM on April 21, 2020 that their father's hospital bill had reached P8 million. We will be revising our articles to reflect this new information from Ms. Alvarez-Protacio.)
Mr. Carlo Katigbak
President, ABS-CBN Corporation
First of all, I want to sincerely thank ABS-CBN for publishing the article “Heherson ‘Sonny Alvarez: Keeper of the Flame” written by Mr. Gerry Lirio (whom I also want to thank for his immensely kind words). While the pain of losing my dad will never go away, knowing that he will be fondly remembered by many will make it less unbearable.
I now write to apologize to you.
Yesterday (April 21, 2020), my brother Hexilon had apparently stated in an interview that (a) my parents’ hospital bills for their confinement had reached more than PHP 8 million, and (b) my family had paid this amount and was hoping to receive reimbursement from Philhealth. Unfortunately, both statements are factually incorrect. Rather, the truth is:
(a) My mother’s bills were approximately PHP 2 million;
(b) Manila Doctors Hospital did NOT charge us for my mother’s hospitalization, as the entire amount was shouldered by Philhealth, upon her discharge last April 15, much to my relief.
(c) As for my father, I cannot be certain as to the amount, but was told after he had passed that it was tentatively somewhere in the neighborhood of almost PHP 5 million (without the Senior Citizen’s discount being factored in yet).
(d) 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 (given the highly infectious nature of COVID-19). In fact, Manila Doctors did not even volunteer the amount of his bill, and they gave me an estimate only because I had prodded them to. 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. This, too, was a tremendous relief, as it allowed me to focus my efforts on arranging for my father’s cremation.
I wish to assure you that everything I said above is 100% true, as I was the only one who was directly dealing with everyone from Manila Doctors (whether the administration, my parents’ attending physicians, resident doctors and nurses). I can even assure you that we would not have been able to pay PHP 8 million, even if we had wanted to, so there is nothing for Philhealth to “reimburse” my family.
I am very embarrassed to say that my brother appears to have misunderstood the facts and made some assumptions based on outdated information. In particular, after our parents had been hospitalized for about a week and were both intubated, I was informed that their running bill was approximately PHP 2 million. At that time, there were yet no clear guidelines or pronouncement from Philhealth as to the extent of coverage to be granted to COVID-19 patients, so we had to brace ourselves for the prospect of a gigantic hospital bill at the end. I then told this to my brother weeks ago, and it now appears that he extrapolated the figure of PHP 8 million from what I told him weeks ago, and assumed that we must have somehow paid that amount. I hope you can forgive him for his honest error, and plead for your understanding as he (like the rest of my family) is very distraught over our dad’s demise.
I hope you can accept my apologies as well for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused. I also humbly request that my brother’s interview, as well as all other articles that are based thereon, be taken down. I am so mortified by all this, and am deeply concerned that this false information might cause embarrassment or other problems for Manila Doctors (which has been nothing else but professional and kind to my family) or Philhealth, both of whom I am so grateful for and to, or cause complications with the settlement of parents’ hospitalization expenses. 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. We even find ourselves receiving offers of donations from well-meaning individuals, which donations are far, far better directed to others who need them more. And 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.
Thank you for your understanding and God bless you and our country always.