DoH starts releasing cash benefits to health workers infected or dead from COVID-19

THE Department of Health said 25 families have received the P1 million cash benefit granted to health care workers who died due to coronavirus infection in the line of duty. In a statement, the department said all 32 cash checks for the identified beneficiaries have been prepared and 25 were already received, while five are pending some documentary requirements and two for confirmation as the heirs are abroad. Ten cash checks out of 42 health workers who were critically-ill have also been prepared. The cash benefits are provided under the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said President Rodrigo R. Duterte may tap his contingent fund for the cash benefit now that the Bayanihan law has expired. “The compensation will no longer be granted because it’s in the Bayanihan law, not in the General Appropriations Act… But, nothing can stop or anything illegal with the President — given there’s funding — using his contingent fund,” Mr. Drilon said in mixed English and Filipino in an interview over radio DzBB on Sunday. “The President has funds enough at his disposal,” Mr. Drilon said, referring to the P13-billion contingent fund and P4.5 billion confidential and intelligence fund under the 2020 national budget. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Charmaine A. Tadalan

Senate probe on illegal COVID-19 hospitals sought

A RESOLUTION has been filed in the Senate seeking to conduct an investigation on illegal hospitals operating to treat solely Chinese nationals who are suspected to have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay filed Senate Resolution No. 428 in light of government crackdowns that uncovered such clandestine makeshift hospitals in Clark, Pampanga and Makati City. “The proliferation of illegal medical facilities for the treatment of contagious diseases… is a public health concern that the Senate urgently needs to look into considering that they impose serious health risk,” the resolution read in part. The facility in Pampanga was a converted unit within the Fontana Leisure Park at the Clark economic zone. Ms. Binay, who is vice chairperson of the health and demography committee, said the Makati police has determined that the clinic there had “no business permit and the Chinese doctor working there had no license to practice in the Philippines.” Senator Risa N. Hontiveros had earlier called for the immediate deportation and blacklisting of those arrested. The National Bureau of Investigation had said it will be investigating the illegal facilities. — Charmaine A. Tadalan