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Nograles backs proposal to bury fallen COVID-19 frontliners at Libingan ng mga Bayani

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday expressed support to the proposal to allow frontliners who died of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In a virtual press briefing, Nograles said he personally favors the proposal although the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases still needs to discuss it.

Nograles serves as spokesperson for the IATF.

"Tawag naman natin sa kanila lagi ay real-life heroes. Sila ang bayani ng ating bansa. So for me, personally, I am for it. But we'll talk about it sa IATF para mapag-usapan namin ito," he said.

"We have to review the laws kung kailangan ba ng amendment sa batas. Pero kung hindi naman kailangan, if it's a policy decision lamang at kayang gawin ng IATF, then bakit hindi? O kung si Pangulo lang, bakit hindi?" he added.

It was Ako Bicol party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr. who proposed that fallen COVID-19 frontliners in the Philippines be laid at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, subject to protocols set for those who died due to the disease.

"Every Filipino frontliner who dies in this COVID-19 war deserves to be laid to rest at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani because of their supreme sacrifice for love of country, loyalty to the people, and devotion to their profession," he said.

"According to the COVID-19 protocols, the remains are cremated first. In our proposal, the ultimate resting place would be the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. After the immediate COVID-19 threat has passed, there will be a proper time to properly honor the fallen frontliners versus COVID-19," he added.

Upon the resumption of the session of Congress, Garbin said he will request the House leadership to approve his proposal in expression of collective gratitude to all frontliners fighting against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, BHW party-list Representative Angelica Natasha Co proposed that a new honor named after former Health Secretary Dr. Juan Flavier be established and granted posthumously to the fallen COVID-19 frontliners.

The proposed new honor will "have a stature equal to the Order of National Scientists and Order of National Artists, with the same gratuities and privileges," she said.

Malacañang said Thursday health workers who died fighting the spread of COVID-19 may be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo cited the regulation issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a portion of which stated that “other deceased persons whose interment or re-interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress, or the Secretary of National Defense” are qualified to be interred at the reputable gravesite in Taguig City.

“In addition, since the listing of those who may be interred in the LNMB was only made through an AFP Guideline, then the same may be amended through a mere executive issuance, to include the said frontliners,” said Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel.

The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469) directed the President to provide compensation of P100,000 to public and private health workers who may contract severe COVID-19 infection while in the line of duty.

A P1-million compensation will be given to health workers who died while fighting the viral outbreak.

At least 21 doctors in the country have died due to COVID-19, according to the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi).

Dr. Rustico Jimenez, PHAPi president, called for enough supply of personal protective equipment in hospitals to protect health workers from getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

As of Saturday, there are a total of 4,428 reported cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, with 247 deaths and 157 recoveries. —KG, GMA News