Gatchalian wants immediate financial aid for COVID-19 treatment of teachers, staff

Gatchalian wants immediate financial aid for COVID-19 treatment of teachers, staff

Sen. Win Gatchalian

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — With classes set to open amid the spread of the more
transmissible Delta variant, Senator Win Gatchalian is pressing the
national government to uphold the welfare of teachers, especially
those falling ill with COVID-19.

Gatchalian’s call came after Department of Education (DepED)
Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla raised concerns in a public
hearing that the agency proposed financial assistance for school
personnel who will get infected with the coronavirus disease for
School Year 2021-2022 but was not considered in the 2022 National
Expenditure Program (NEP).

DepEd explained that under the national budget, it is not authorized
to spend for the treatment of personnel who test positive for
COVID-19. DepEd personnel, however, can avail of packages from the
Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) should they get
infected.

While Gatchalian acknowledges that Congress can amend the proposed
2022 budget to consider DepEd’s proposal, he said that a special
arrangement with PhilHealth—such as the creation of a special lane
at the very least—would be the quickest way to provide relief to
teachers.

“I recommend that DepEd work with PhilHealth, kahit na special lane
lang. I think that will be a big help dahil masakit iyong
reimbursement type, pay first and then they get reimbursement. Pero
alam naman natin that reimbursement takes time. Some of the
reimbursement takes two months or three months. In fact, if you don’t
follow it up, it will take forever,” said the Chairman of the Senate
Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

“Our teachers need to feel special because they are also doing special
work at this time,” he added.

Gatchalian assured DepEd that in the crafting of the 2022 budget, he
will push for amendments that will give authorization on the provision
of assistance to personnel getting infected with COVID-19.

Since the implementation of the distance learning program, teachers’
groups have been lamenting the lack of financial assistance from the
education department for teachers and staff who test positive for the
coronavirus.
Aside from the Php 5,000 cash allowance in June, a Special Hardship
Allowance (SHA), which is 25% of the teachers’ monthly basic salary,
is expected to be given ahead of school opening. (ai/mtvn)

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