MANILA — The Philippines' health department said it will try its best to finish on Tuesday the distribution of law-mandated benefits for health workers most affected by COVID-19, to meet the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte set last week the June 9 deadline for the Department of Health.
Until that time, the P1 million benefit each for those who died and P100,000 each for those who were severely ill among the country's health workers who contracted the COVID-19 have yet to be released.
Republic Act No. 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which mandates such compensation, was passed in March.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing Tuesday morning that the DOH is committed to completing the task within the presidential deadline.
“Binigyan kami until end of business day today para makumpleto namin yan,” Vergeire said.
(We were given until the end of the business day to complete this.)
“Ngayon, 'pag di matapos dahil hindi kumpleto, ito ay sa kadahilanan na meron tayong unforeseen circumstance dito sa mga binibigyan natin,” she added.
(Now if we are unable to complete this, it would be because of the unforeseen circumstances on the part of the recipients.)
Vergeire said 26 families have each received the P1 million checks for their relatives who died while serving as frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the remaining six are still working on their documents.
Of the six, two have problems with the death certificates, which should categorically state that they died due to COVID-19. The four others have immediate family members residing abroad and their relatives in the country need to present a Special Power of Attorney.
Vergeire said the DOH is hoping the problems are resolved by the end of the day.
The number of health workers who became severely ill due to COVID-19 and are therefore qualified for the P100,000 compensation has been trimmed further to 24, Vergeire said.
There were 79 in the initial list, and later reduced to 42.
Vergeire said some health workers were delisted because their medical abstracts do not show they were severely ill or were considered critical cases. Some also told the DOH that they only had mild or moderate symptoms.
Vergeire said that severe cases are those who suffered difficulty in breathing and most likely required the use of mechanical ventilators, while critical cases are those whose other organs were also affected by the disease.
Of the 24 who were considered severely or critically ill, 10 already received their checks. Four have just completed their documents and are awaiting their checks.
“And then 10 na lang ay kailangan natin pag-aralan pa,” she said.
(We have 10 more cases that we are studying.)
Duterte earlier expressed disappointment over the delayed distribution of the benefits for the severely infected health workers, which is spelled out in Section 4F of RA 11469.