Over 30 health workers felled or sickened by COVID-19 got no aid from ‘Bayanihan’ Act
MANILA, Philippines – Senators were dismayed to learn that none of the over 30 health workers who died or became severely ill from COVID-19 in the line of duty has received compensation provided under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Under the law, public and private health workers who contract severe COVID-19 infection in the line of duty are entitled to P100,000, while the families of those who die from it could get P1 million.
Sen. Sonny Angara, quoting the Department of Health, said no one had availed himself or herself of these provisions due to the absence of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law.
Angara raised this development during interpellations into a bill providing for the Philippines’ recovery plans following the pandemic.
“It’s really criminal, this neglect to pass this, and to delay these types of benefits. We keep praising them as our heroes, and yet it’s mere lip service if we don’t give them anything material,” he said.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who had introduced the provision in the Bayanihan bill, said this was “serious neglect.”
Gordon said 32 health workers have died from COVID-19. At present, 1,172 health workers have the virus, 952 are mild cases, 218 are asymptomatic, while two are severely ill.
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the absence of the IRR should not be a hindrance to the implementation of the provision.
“It’s in the law. The lack or absence of the IRR should not be an excuse not to comply with the law,” said Lacson.
Gordon agreed that the IRR is not needed, and said the law was clear.
“Why should we distinguish? They have already died. A little investigation will tell us that you can pay them because they died because they were at the frontline. That’s a no brainer,” he said.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the delay in the release of IRR showed a lack of compassion and was “unacceptable and unforgivable.”
Pangilinan called on the Senate leadership to make sure this is addressed.
Angara suggested that the Senators write a letter to underscore the urgency of the matter.
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