Recto: Compensation for virus-hit health workers should be tax-free
MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Thursday, June 4, said that compensation promised by the law for health workers who died or severely infected with coronavirus should be tax-free.
"The taxman should not have a share of the state’s monetary thank you to these heroes," Recto said in a statement.
"'Yung mga pabuya nga sa mga atletang nagkamedalya walang buwis, ito pa kayang para sa mga totoong nagbuwis buhay?" he added.
(The cash incentives for athletes-medalists are tax-free, the same thing should be extended to those who risked their lives.)
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, health workers who get severely sick of the coronavirus disease are qualified to a P100,000 compensation each. Meanwhile, families of health workers who died from the virus are entitled to receive P1 million.
But senators have said that in the over two months since the law was signed, not one health worker has received the compensation.
During a virtual press briefing on Thursday morning, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte got mad and frustrated after learning that health workers have not yet received the compensation. (READ: 'Angry' Duterte orders gov't to ensure virus-hit health workers get compensation)
Duterte has given government agencies until Tuesday, June 9, to give out the compensation.
As of Monday, June 1, 32 health workers have died from COVID-19, while 2 others remain severely ill. Of those who died, 26 were physicians, 4 were nurses, and 2 were non-medical personnel.
Recto said a new provision of the Senate version of the bill extending the validity of the Bayanihan Act requires payment of compensation not later than 90 days after date of confinement or death.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a virtual press briefing on Thursday afteroon said that secretaries of the Department of Health, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Budget and Management have already signed the joint administrative order for the benefits of the virus-hit health workers.
In a viber message to reporters, Vergeire said that they have already contacted some of the families of the health workers who have died.
"Once they [families of the health workers] have completed the documentary requirements, we can immediately process the checks since the budget is ready already," Vergeire said.
As of Thursday, the Philippines recorded 20,382 cases of coronavirus infections, with 984 deaths and 4,248 recoveries. – Rappler.com