More relief, through fresh government funds, is coming the way of health workers risking their lives in the fight against COVID-19 and also farmers and consumers grappling with loss of income when lockdowns nationwide kept them at home.
On Friday (April 17), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it released P1.9 billion last April 15 to the Department of Health (DOH) for the purchase of equipment to test for SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The equipment would be distributed to 68 DOH-certified labs which could conduct 918,000 tests.
Last April 16, the DBM also said it released P8.5 billion to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) rice resiliency project that aimed to prevent any food shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic and also provide aid to farmers.
Citing the DA, the DBM said the rice resiliency project would benefit up to 3 million farmers and “ensure the availability of rice supply through increased local rice production during the 2020 wet season.”
The fund releases were “charged against the pooled savings” from projects not yet implemented as provided by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to deal with COVID-19.
The state-run pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) also on Friday said it would give life insurance to 27,682 DOH employees that covers death because of COVID-19. The insurance coverage would last from March 1 to Dec. 31.
Rolando Macasaet, GSIS president and general manager, said the GSIS Board of Trustees, led by ex-Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, had approved a Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners.
This entitles survivors of health workers who die in the line of duty to an additional P500,000 in insurance benefits on top of the P1 million that the government was giving under the law and what is normally given by the GSIS.
Breaking the benefits down, Macasaet said legal heirs of a government nurse who earns P30,000 a month would get P540,000 in insurance benefits upon the nurse’s death.
The Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners would give survivors of the dead health worker an additional P500,000 “for a total of P1.04 million,” said Macasaet.
The program also applies to other GSIS members also involved in handling COVID-19 cases. These include X-ray technicians, ECG and ultrasound technologists, nursing aides, ambulance drivers, pharmacists, janitors, security guards and others, the GSIS chief said.
Edited by TSB
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