MANILA, Philippines – A day after apologizing for the P500 daily allowance it initially offered to volunteer health care workers, the Department of Health (DOH) announced on Sunday, March 29, a list of benefits for volunteers responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press briefing on Sunday afternoon, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that volunteers will receive benefits listed in Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act recently signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Tulad po ng mga benepisyong natatanggap ng ating mga health workers, may buong package din pong naka-allocate naman para sa mga volunteers ng COVID referral hospitals,” Vergeire said.
(Like the benefits received by our health workers, there is also a whole package allocated for volunteers in COVID referral hospitals.)
She said the volunteers will follow a “two weeks on, two weeks off” policy, where they will be on duty for two weeks and will be in a two-week quarantine period afterwards.
They will be provided with food and lodging both during duty and while in self-quarantine. They will still receive daily allowance even while in quarantine, Vergeire said.
Besides their daily allowance, volunteers will receive a COVID-19 special risk allowance as well as hazard pay in accordance with the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers. They will also receive transportation allowance, according to Vergeire.
In case a volunteer contracts COVID-19 – the disease caused by the novel coronavirus – while on duty, Vergeire said PhilHealth will cover all of the volunteer’s medical expenses.
If a volunteer’s condition becomes critical, he or she will receive P100,000. In case of death, the volunteer’s family will receive P1 million in compensation.
The DOH first said in its call for volunteers that the pay would be P500 a day, along with on-site accommodation and food, for a month. After the DOH received backlash, Vergeire explained on Saturday, March 28, that P500 has been the department’s standard for volunteers since the past outbreaks.
She said the DOH is now studying its supplemental budget to increase the compensation. At least 690 persons have signed up to be volunteers as of Sunday afternoon.
The Philippines has had 1,418 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, with 71 deaths and 42 recoveries. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com