Duque takes ‘responsibility’ for COVID-19 compensation mess
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said he is assuming “responsibility” as the country’s health chief for the delayed release of compensation intended for healthcare workers who had died or became severely ill from coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a meeting with President Duterte and other members of the Cabinet in Davao City, Duque blamed his subordinates at the Department of Health (DOH) for the delay in the release of the financial assistance.
“Nakakahiya talaga, Sir, namatayan nga tapos nagpa-wardi wardi yung mga tao ko na parang walang sense of urgency. Kaya po ang sama-sama po ng loob ko, Mr. President,” Duque said.
(It is a shame, Sir, that health workers are dying, but some of my people are bungling their job, as if they have no sense of urgency. So I really feel bad about this, Mr. President.)
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 due to COVID-19 in the line of duty would get P1 million.
However, it was bared during a recent Senate hearing that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the provision of compensation to medical workers have yet to be finalized, leaving the families of the 32 healthcare workers who have so far died of the respiratory disease uncompensated.
Shortly after the tape of the meeting was aired, Duque then said he is taking responsibility for the delay in the sickness and death benefits, vowing to follow the law and release the compensation.
While I expressed disappointment towards some members of my team, I acknowledge that this is still my responsibility as SOH. I will make sure that we comply with the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, with proper documentation and identification of HCWs.
— Francisco T. Duque III (@SecDuque) June 5, 2020
“While I expressed disappointment towards some members of my team, I acknowledge that this is still my responsibility as SOH (Secretary of Health),” Duque said in a tweet.
“I will make sure that we comply with the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, with proper documentation and identification of HCWs (healthcare workers),” he added.
During the meeting, Duterte warned that he will fire officials behind the delay in the crafting of the IRR of the provision on health workers’ benefits.
While he did not specify who among the DOH officials will be punished, Duterte appeared to have spared Duque from the blame, noting that the health chief cannot do his own errands.
“I said just like me you cannot run your own errands… That’s why it’s called ‘you cannot run your own errands’. Somebody has to do it for you because you cannot really do it beyond human comprehension,” he said.
The President earlier gave concerned government agencies until Tuesday, June 9 to release the compensation to health workers.
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