Senate President Sotto to Health Secretary Duque: Provide compensation to COVID-19-infected health workers, kin of deceased as stipulated in Bayanihan law

This is the first page of Senate President Tito Sotto’s letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. In the letter, Sotto urged the health secretary to provide remuneration to health workers who contracted the COVID-19 virus and to the families of those who died as stipulated in the law.

(Eagle News)–Senate President Tito Sotto on Wednesday, June 3, urged Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to grant compensation to health workers infected by the COVID-19 virus and to the families of those who died as stipulated in the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act.

In asking Duque to implement section 4, paragraph I of Republic Act 11469 in a letter, Sotto noted “no health worker and his or her family has received their supposed remuneration for sacrificing their own lives for our own.”

Sotto dismissed the argument no implementing rules and regulations had been crafted for the law, saying “as a legislator for more than two decades, I am fully aware that generally, a law becomes effective 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.”

“..A law’s effectivity is not and cannot rely on the IRR’s existence or non-existence especially if the provisions of the law (are) clear and categorical,” he said.

According to Sotto, assuming for the sake of argument the IRR were needed, “then what hindered your office to draft and (approve) the said IRR for the past two months?”

He said the “efforts and sacrifices made by our worker-healthcare frontliners need not be emphasized.”

“While I understand that this pandemic is an unprecedented crisis, let it not be the reason for your failure to do what is expected of you as the Secretary of Health and the chairperson of the IATF,” Sotto said.

“May I remind you that we, as public servants, are duty-bound to cushion the effects that this pandemic brings, and not to add to the problem or worst, to be the problem and source of panic and further uncertainties in this already challenging world,” he added.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act into law in March.

The law authorizes the President to ensure the implementation of measures for the effective education, detection, protection, and treatment of people versus COVID-19; expediting the accreditation of testing kits and facilitating the prompt testing by public and designated private institutions; providing allowance or compensation and shouldering medical expenses in favor of public and private health workers; directing establishments to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, or relief and aid distribution locations, as well as public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel; ensuring the availability of essential goods, in particular food and medicine, and protecting the people from illegal and pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of certain essential items; among others.

Under the law,  public and private health workers who contract the virus while serving in the line of duty will get a compensation of P100,000 each.

The law also stipulates a compensation of P1 million  to the kin of health workers who die in the fight to contain the COVID-19 spread.