2-month delay in cash benefits for virus frontliners irks Duterte

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2020 09:55 AM | Updated as of Jun 05 2020 10:07 AM

2-month delay in cash benefits for virus frontliners irks Duterte 1
A health worker demonstrates the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donning procedure during a Health Workers Seminar at the Ynares Event Center, on April 22, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Friday the formation of a new team within the Department of Health to take over the distribution of the law-mandated benefits for health workers who died or got infected with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Duterte, in a public address, said he wants Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to form a new team within 24 hours.

"Now I am asking Sec. Duque to form a new team that would focus on the immediate delivery fo the assistance that should be given to yung namatay at nagkasakit. I expect it within 24 hours," he said.

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.

The President said the delay in the distribution of cash benefits was "totally unacceptable" as he chastised Congress for failing to notice the discrepancy as well.

"P*t*ng *n*, dalawang buwan itong lecheng ito. Can you just imagine two months?" he said.

It was only on Thursday when the DOH announced that it has approved the guidelines for the release of the monetary benefits.

Duterte said Congress should have flagged his administration that the benefits were yet to be distributed given that he submits a weekly report to lawmakers as provided under the Bayanihan law.

"Dapat nakita na rin ninyo, nasilip na rin ninyo bakit wala yung tulong sa namatay at sa nagkasakit..." he said.

There are currently 32 health workers — 4 nurses, 26 were doctors and 2 non-medical staff — who died due to COVID-19, the health department said.

Duque has blamed his staff for the delay in the release of the monetary benefits, saying they had no sense of urgency over the matter.

"Nakakahiya talaga, sir eh. Namatayan na nga tapos nagpaka wardy-wardy 'yung mga tao ko na parang walang sense of urgency," Duque said.

Duterte earlier gave authorities until Tuesday, June 9 to give the benefits to qualified recipients.