President Rodrigo Duterte gave the Department of Health (DOH) three days to compensate and distribute the P32 million budget for the families of fallen COVID-19 heroes or the health workers who died while on the duty of treating infected patients.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press briefing on Thursday said Duterte was “angry” and “furious” upon learning that not a single centavo was given to the bereaved families of doctors, nurses, and hospital assistants who died of the respiratory disease, even after more than three months of Bayanihan Law implementation.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act mandates the government to give P1 million in compensation to the families of health workers who died fighting the coronavirus and P100,000 for health workers who contracted the disease but survived.
“The President was really angry. Angry, frustrated,” Roque said, describing Duterte’s reaction to news about the “serious neglect” and failure of DOH to implement the compensation provision of the law.
“The President gave until Tuesday for concerned agencies to release the compensation benefits to health workers who got sick and died of COVID-19 in the line of duty,” Roque said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and several colleagues earlier expressed their dismay after they discovered DOH had not distributed the allocated funds for the health workers and their families.
“This is definitely unacceptable,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters in an online press briefing.
DOH to compensate families of fallen COVID-19 heroes
A day after the issue surfaced, DOH began “processing” the benefits of the health workers.
“We are processing the checks and working out the necessary documents they need to submit to avail the benefits,” the DOH said.
DOH Usec explained it took a while for DOH to release the implementing guidelines because they had to source the funds.
“Ating inexplore ‘yung iba ibang posibilidad para magawa natin itong provision na ito sa batas kaya tayo ay natagalan,” she said.
(We explored the different possibilities to ensure the implementation of this provision. That is why it took a while.)
Vergerie further said the health department would realign different budgets to source funds, adding P100 million would come from DOH’s medical assistance funds.