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INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF FRONTLINERS’ BENEFITS URGED

Senator Kiko Pangilinan has sponsored a measure seeking to institutionalize benefits for public and private frontliners during a state of public health emergencies as he aims for faster disbursement so they can use it for the needs of their families.

Pangilinan said Senate Bill No. 2421 if passed into law, will help avoid a repeat of the delays in the disbursement of benefits and other allowances of frontliners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We recognize the severely lacking benefits for our healthcare workers especially in times of emergencies,” Pangilinan said during his co-sponsorship speech.

“We wanted to put in place a system where their benefits are already institutionalized in hopes that it can be disbursed faster,” added Pangilinan, who was also made co-author of the measure.

During the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last August 27, the veteran lawmaker also pushed the DOH to finalize the list of 488,000 healthcare workers eligible to receive benefits and other allowances during the pandemic.

Some of the salient points of the measure include special risk allowance during a state of national emergency; active hazard duty pay and assumption of all medical expenses for frontliners.

Frontliners will also be compensated upon contracting a disease while in the line of duty and will be given free life insurance, accommodation, transportation, and meals while under a state of national emergency. They will also be provided free personal protective equipment (PPEs) and free and regular testing.

Pangilinan also thanked the sponsor, Senator Sonny Angara, for incorporating his suggestions in the Committee Report and his colleagues for their prompt response to the calls of the frontliners.

Pangilinan, for his part, filed Senate Bill No. 2351 or the Healthcare Front-liners Protection Act, following a dialogue with nurses and front-liners.

The senator has committed to continue asking the DOH for updates to ensure that all claimants receive the benefits and allowances due them.

“Dahil nga tayo ay nasa ilalim ng isang national public health emergency, mabilis ang galaw ng ating mga nurses at iba pang front-liners upang makapagbigay ng serbisyo ngayong pandemya,” said Pangilinan.

“Ngunit kung ano ang bilis ng kanilang galaw at walang kapaguran na kanilang serbisyo, ganoon naman kabagal ang pagbibigay ng kanilang benepisyo,” he added.

Pangilinan mentioned the story of Joie Cruz, whose mother, a 47-year old nurse in Cainta, died even before getting her hazard pay.

When the family received the hazard pay, it was even less than what was promised by the Department of Health (DOH) during their public pronouncements.

“Imagine that: a bereaved family only hoping to receive what is due to their mother, who died while on active duty but receiving less than what was their right,” said Pangilinan.

During the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last August 27, the veteran lawmaker also pushed the DOH to finalize the list of 488,000 healthcare workers eligible to receive benefits and other allowances during the pandemic.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque, for his part, asked for two months to finalize the validated list.

“We believe that all 488,000 healthcare workers who are claimants should be given their Special Risk Allowance and other benefits, on top of the initial 21,156 beneficiaries,” Pangilinan insisted.

The senator has committed to continue asking the DOH for updates to ensure that all claimants receive the benefits and allowances due to them.

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