By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) was urged on Monday to set up a medical fund that will provide financial assistance to its own personnel who are performing frontline tasks amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread in the country.
“As we face the wrath of the global pandemic COVID-19, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines is writing to your office in behalf of the almost one million personnel of the DepEd, we would like to forward the following to your office for appropriate action,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio in a letter addressed to Education Secretary Leonor Briones dated April 4, 2020.
The group is requesting DepEd to provide assistance to its personnel whose health are at risk while performing tasks in line with their duties. ACT said that Republic Act 11469, the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act” provides assistance to frontline health workers.
“Several personnel of the DepEd are also performing frontline tasks in the different DepEd offices nationwide and are at risk of contracting the virus,” Basilio said.
Citing a DepEd COVID-19 Situation Report dated April 2, ACT reported there are five (5) confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its personnel: three in the National Capital Region (NCR), one (1) in Region IV-B, and one (1) in Region VI which was verified after the patient expired.
ACT said that based on the same report, there are 57 Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and 681 Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs) among the DepEd’s personnel.
Basilio said that while they may be eligible to PhilHealth’s special packages, these will not suffice to cover the costs of tending to their medical needs. “Hence, we appeal to DepEd to create a medical fund with the end goal of providing financial assistance to DepEd personnel who may be infected by the virus,” he said. The funding, ACT suggested, may be sourced from the DepEd’s disaster fund.
Aside from the medical fund, ACT is also urging DepEd to provide cash assistance to all its personnel during the public health emergency. Basilio said that under the RA 11469, a social amelioration assistance will be provided for the low income families. However, this will “exclude personnel” of the DepEd.
“With this, we call on the DepEd to provide the cash assistance in the amount of Php 10,000 for all personnel nationwide,” Basilio said. “The fund will be sourced from the savings incurred from the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) and several other projects and activities incurred due to class cancellation,” he said.