Gordon to DOH: No need for IRR, give COVID-19 health workers promised benefits

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4)— Healthcare workers who died of or were critically infected with COVID-19 should be given even the benefits promised by the government even without the implementing rules and regulations on this, Senator Richard Gordon said Thursday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Gordon backed calls for the immediate release of compensation due these frontliners, saying the delay is "inexcusable" in this time of crisis.

"Hinihintay pa ni (Health) Secretary (Francisco (Duque). I don't think it's his fault, pero 'yung implementing rules and regulations, dapat matapos 'yan. Sa akin, hindi na kailangan 'yung implementing rules and regulations. I spoke to him. Sabi ko, 'ibigay mo na lang,'" Gordon said in an interview with The Source, adding Duque agreed to this.

[Translation: Secretary Duque is still waiting, I don't think it's his fault, but the implementing rules and regulations, need to be finalized. For me, the IRR is not needed. I spoke to him. I said, 'just give the benefits.']

Gordon stressed that it is essential for authorities to prioritize service to the country instead of being too cautious about rules.

On Wednesday, Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III wrote a letter urging Duque to release the ₱100,000 to healthcare workers with "severe" COVID-19 infection and ₱1 million to the families of those who died from the mysterious disease as provided for by the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act approved in March.

It was revealed in a Senate session earlier this week that none of the healthworkers have been able to receive these benefits due to the lack of an IRR from health department.

The DOH assured it was working on this and that department officials have been reaching out to the concerned families.

"We are also gathering information to identify those who were classified as severe patients so they can be informed also of this benefit," Health spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

Over 2,600 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, while 32 have died, according to the DOH latest data. Nationwide, there are over 19,000 cases of the deadly disease.