MANILA – “I’m removing all of them for total lack of confidence and because they are not functioning. We are wasting money paying for these people, ang laki ng sweldo nila (their salary is so big),” the furious President Rodrigo Duterte said in a replay of his meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force (AITF) in the evening of June 4.
The president before he left for Davao City early this week was visibly irritated to know that his promise to provide assistance to medical frontliners who either died or infected of Covid-19. On March 24, the Bayanihan to Health Act (R.A. 11469) was passed, among others, to provide Php 1-million each to the bereaved family of health workers who died and Php 100,000 for those who were sick in line with their duty. So far, the government has lost about 32 health workers and some 30 got sick in the fight against Covid-19 since February 2020.
Senator Lawrence Christopher “Bong” Go said he delivered a privilege speech at the senate criticizing the Department of Health for being so slow in providing support to the intended families. “Biro mo dalawang buwan na ang batas ngunit hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin naibigay?” (You know what, it has been two months since the law was passed but until now the assistance is not yet given to the families?), Senator Go said.
He also narrated to the senate on his experience on how fast would the president respond in cases of providing assistance to families of fallen police or military personnel. “Mga tatlong araw o isang linggo lang pinadala na ang tseke at iba pang tulong sa pamilya. Pagdating sa bangkay, nandiyan na lahat at hindi na kailangan pahirapan pa ang pamilyang kukuha sa ayuda para sa kanila,” (It takes only 3 days to 1 week and the cheque and other assistance are delivered to the family. When the cadaver comes, all support is there already so as not to burden the family).
President Duterte gave full authority to DOH Secretary Duque III to form a new team to focus on the immediate delivery of assistance to intended beneficiaries within 24 hours because for him, two months of waiting is “totally unacceptable.” He said there are many well-intentioned Filipinos who want to serve the government to contribute to humanity.
“Just like me, you cannot run your own errands. Somebody has to do it for you because you can’t do it beyond human comprehension” the president said. Can this be the last straw of the secretary?