Wed. Sep 29th, 2021

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to form a new team that will oversee the distribution of compensation to health workers with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Duterte gave the fresh order during his meeting with his Cabinet in Davao City on Thursday night after being piqued by the delayed release of compensation benefits for healthcare workers who fell severely ill or died of Covid-19.

“Now, I am asking Secretary Duque to form a new team that would focus on the immediate delivery of the assistance that should be given to those who were ‘yung namatay tapos ‘yung nagkasakit (died or fell ill due to Covid-19). And I expect it within 24 hours,” he said in a speech aired on-state-run PTV-4.

Under Republic Act (RA) 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, health workers who contracted Covid-19 will be given PHP100,000, while the families of healthcare workers who died of Covid-19 duty will receive PHP1 million.

Senators, however, lamented on Tuesday that none of the health workers who acquired Covid-19 received compensation packages.

Duterte said it was “totally unacceptable” that the health workers infected with Covid-19 have yet to be compensated.

He ordered Duque to make sure that the new team would fulfill its mandate to provide immediate assistance to the uncompensated health workers.

“Directly deliver the assistance immediately. Secretary Duque, you have the full authority to assemble the team. It may not really be from your office or the department itself. You can get persons of known honesty diyan sa opisina mo (in your office), even temporary, just for a new designation, just to take care of its funds which ought to be in the hands of the intended beneficiaries by this time,” he said.

As of June 1, a total of 2,669 healthcare workers have acquired Covid-19, according to the data from the Department of Health (DOH).

Around 1,438 of the infected health workers have already recovered, while 32 others have died due to the new coronavirus.

‘Sacrificing’ erring officials

Duque, who was also present during the meeting, admitted that he was not satisfied with the performance of those who are responsible for the distribution of the compensation to the affected healthcare workers.

“‘Yung mga tao ko, parang walang sense of urgency. ‘Yun po ang talagang ang sama-sama ng loob ko (My subordinates seemed to have no sense of urgency. I am really dissatisfied),” he said.

Duterte said the financial aid should be given in “just a matter of days.”

Duterte cautioned that he is willing to “sacrifice” government officials who are behind the delay in the release of cash assistance to the virus-hit health workers.

“We have to move fast. And if we have to move fast, I will sacrifice you even if you are not really a laggard,” he said. “If you want it done in a hurry, the power to appoint carries with it a power to dismiss And since it’s an absolute thing for total loss of confidence, I’m removing them because they are not functioning.”

‘Conflicting claims’

Duque told Duterte that his office had already identified the families of the 32 fallen health workers.

He, however, noted that there was a problem in the release of the compensation due to the “conflicting claims.”

Duque, nevertheless, guaranteed that the DOH is now doing its best to compensate the sick health workers and the families of those who died.

He said the Joint Administrative Order has already been issued to implement the provision on healthcare workers’ this week.

“Yung pinapatutukan ko po, ‘yung 32 families na kailangan po yung ayuda nila na PHP1 million based on your directive, dapat iyan i-release (I have already told them to focus on the 32 families who should receive the PHP1 million assistance, based on your directive),” Duque said. (PNA)

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