Sat. Sep 18th, 2021

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte may set a deadline for government agencies to provide compensation to health care workers who became severely ill or died of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the remark after senators expressed dismay that none of the more than 30 health care workers who contracted Covid-19 received compensation packages as mandated by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Republic Act (RA) 11469.

Roque said the President may give agencies an ultimatum as he did when he asked, on May 25, the labor and health departments to ensure that all 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stuck in quarantine centers beyond the quarantine period are sent home within a week.

“We agree with the senators. That’s why in my talk I will ask the President, ‘What is now your mandate?’ Because the last time we talked about stranded OFWs, he simply said, ‘I’ll give these people a deadline,’” Roque said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart.

He noted that he would raise the issue with the President when he attends the scheduled meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) in Davao City on Thursday.

“So tomorrow (Thursday) when I meet with the President, I expect him to give the responsible parties again a deadline when to give the benefits to those who have gotten sick,” Roque said.

Recent data showed that a total of 1,172 health care workers have contracted Covid-19, some 952 of whom were mild cases, 218 were asymptomatic, and two fell severely ill.

Meanwhile, 32 health care workers have died of Covid-19.

Under the Bayanihan Law, public and private health care workers who become severely ill or died of Covid-19 in the line of duty are entitled to PHP100,000, while the families of those who succumb to the illness could get PHP 1 million.

On interpellations into the Bayanihan Law on Tuesday night, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, quoting the Department of Health, bared that none of the health care workers has availed of the provisions due to the absence of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law.

Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said the absence of the IRR should “not be an excuse” to comply with the law.

The IRR is not needed, Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon agreed, describing it as a “no brainer.”

Senator Francis Pangilinan said the delay in the release of the IRR was “unacceptable and unforgivable.”

Besides compensation, the Bayanihan Law also provides for a “Covid-19 special risk allowance” for public health workers on top of the hazard pay that they should receive under the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers Act.

The law also mandates the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to shoulder all the medical expenses of public and private health workers if they contract Covid-19 or suffer injuries or other diseases during the national health emergency. (PNA)

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