DOH vows swift action on delayed compensation for virus-hit health workers
MANILA, Philippines — After being called out by several senators, the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday vowed to immediately act on the delayed release of compensation for the over 30 healthcare workers who died or became severely ill from COVID-19.
Under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, health workers who become severely ill in the line of duty are to get compensation of P100,000 while the family of those who died of COVID-19 in the line of duty should get P1 million.
However, it was bared during a Senate hearing Tuesday night that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the provision of compensation to medical workers have yet to be finalized, leaving at least 32 healthcare workers uncompensated.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said DOH, the Departments of Budget and Management (DBM), and Labor and Employment (DOLE) will come up with a Joint Administrative Order to implement the provision on health workers’ compensation this week.
“In preparation for its immediate implementation, our public assistance unit has been calling the heirs of the 32 healthcare workers for the submission of necessary documents to claim the benefits,” Vergeire said in a televised press briefing.
“We are also gathering information on those infected who were classified as severe patients so they can be informed also of this benefit,” she added.
The unearthing of the delay in the release of the compensation prompted the Senate leadership to send a “strongly worded” letter to the Health Department to immediately implement the provision of the Bayanihan law.
“They are being so-called COVID-19 heroes and the accolades they received each day are enough reminders to get noticed by everyone, including you. But it seems that you pay no heed to these facts,” Senate President Vicente Sotto said in his letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“Assuming arguendo that an IRR is indispensable in the implementation of Bayanihan To Heal As Once Act, particularly on the grant of compensation to affected health workers or their families, then what hindered your office to draft and approve the said IRR for the past two months?” the senator added.
To date, a total of 2.669 health workers nationwide have contracted COVID-19. Of the number, 32 have died.
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