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Duterte gives officials until June 9 to release COVID-19 sickness, death benefits for health workers

President Rodrigo Duterte gave government officials until June 9 to distribute the financial assistance to COVID-19-stricken health workers, Malacañang said Thursday.

Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said in a televised briefing that the President issued the directive after he was informed about the delay in the release of the assistance.

“Galit po ang Presidente. Galit, frustrated at ngayon ko lang po nakita na talagang medyo uminit ang ulo ng Presidente nung nalaman niya na matapos ang tatlong buwan ng Bayanihan [to] Heal as One Act ay hindi pa rin nabibigay,” Roque said.

Roque warned officials to follow the President’s order.

“Binabalaan ko po ang mga otoridad: sumunod po tayo dahil ngayon ko lang po nakita na ganyan kainit ang ulo ng ating Presidente,” he said.

Distribution starts

In compliance, Health Undersecretary Roger Tong-An said the families of the 32 health workers who died due to COVID-19 will be receiving the death benefit amounting to P1 million each starting Thursday.

"The [Health, Budget and Labor departments] signed the joint administrative order then we are now preparing for the 32 health care workers who died due to COVID-19, amounting to P32 million," Tong-An, head of DOH's Administration and Financial Management Team, said in a phone interview with GMA News Online.

"Ide-deliver namin sa mga bahay nila... today, tomorrow, until Saturday. Ready naman na ang check," he added.

Dismayed senators

Several senators expressed dismay on Tuesday after learning that not a single health worker affected with severe COVID-19 has been able to receive the sickness and death benefit that was indicated in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Senator Sonny Angara said in a plenary session that the lack of implementing rules and regulations hampered the release of the benefits.

On Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Department of Health is crafting a joint administrative order with the Budget and Labor Departments to implement the provision of the Bayanihan law, which mandates a P100,000 benefit for health workers with severe case of COVID-19 and P1 million for those who died from the disease.

She said the joint order will be finalized within the week.

As of Monday, the DOH reported that 2,669 health workers have contracted the disease, with 32 deaths and 1,438 recoveries. It also recorded one severe case.

On Thursday, the DOH said the distribution of the P1 million death benefit for health workers who died due to COVID-19 while in line of duty is now being processed.

In an update to reporters, the DOH said the families of the 32 fallen health workers had already been contacted.

"We are processing the checks and working out the necessary documents they need to submit to avail the benefits," the DOH said in a statement.  — KBK/RSJ, GMA News