MANILA (2ND UPDATE)-- President Rodrigo Duterte is giving authorities until Tuesday, June 9 to give the law-mandated benefits for health workers who died or got infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Malacañang said Thursday.
The order comes after the President was informed that no health worker has availed of the cash benefit yet, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
"Hanggang Martes lang po ang ibinigay ng Presidente para sa lahat ng kinauukulan na ibigay ang mga compensation benefits sa mga healthworkers na nagkasakit ng COVID-19 in the line of duty at sa pamilya ng mga namatay na health workers," he said in a Palace press briefing.
(The President is giving authorities until Tuesday to give the compensation benefits of health workers that got sick with COVID-19 while in the line of duty, and aid for the families of health workers who died.)
Roque said the President was "frustrated" to find out that qualified health workers and their families have yet to receive the benefit.
"Galit po ang Presidente, frustrated. Ngayon ko lang po talaga nakita na medyo uminit ang ulo ng Presidente," he said.
(The President is mad, frustrated. This is the first time that I saw the President this angry.)
"Mainit na mainit po ang ulo ng Presidente," he added.
(The President is really angry.)
Under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, public and private health workers who contract severe COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty will receive a compensation of P100,000 and those who die “while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic” will be compensated with P1 million.
There are currently 32 health workers — 4 nurses, 26 were doctors and 2 non-medical staff — who died due to COVID-19, the Department of Health said.
As of Thursday, the DOH said there are 60 health workers who were severely ill with COVID-19 and another 19 who were considered critical cases.
SENATORS WRITE TO DUQUE
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to immediately compensate the family of health workers.
"A law's effectivity does not and cannot rely on the IRR's existence or non-existence, especially if the provisions of the law are clear and categorical," Sotto said in a letter to Duque, after a Department of Health representative told senators that the fund was not disbursed due to the lack of implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Duque earlier told ABS-CBN News that the IRR for the cash aid for health workers was not released as the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Budget and Management have yet to comment on the Joint Administrative Order on the matter.
"While I understand that this pandemic is an unprecedented crisis, let it not be the reason for your failure to do what is expected of you as the Secretary of Health and the Chairperson of the Inter-Agenct Task Force," Sotto added in his letter.
"Hindi katanggap-tanggap na 'yung mga dapat naibigay noon ay hindi pa rin naibibigay ngayon," Senate Health Committee chair Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said in a separate statement.
(It's not acceptable that benefits that should have long been distributed remain pending.)
"Neglecting to do your job for the people who paid with their own lives is a dishonor to their memory and sacrifices for our country," he said.
The Senate "Seatmate's Bloc" - composed of senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Migz Zubiri - also sent a separate letter urging Duque to "immediately facilitate the distribution of compensation" for health workers guaranteed under the Bayanihan Law.
"It is utterly disappointing that the compensation due still has not been claimed by our brave health care workers or their families for more than 2 months since its enactment," the lawmakers said.
- With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News