By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva welcomed the inclusion of COVID-19 in the list of compensable work-related diseases by the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), saying it provides relief for both employers and workers, particularly those who contract the COVID-19 virus in the workplace.
Given the high risk of workers getting infected with the virus at the workplace, Villanueva said the policy would further convince COVID-stricken or asymptomatic workers to stay at home since there would be support coming from the government.
“Good news po ito para sa ating mga manggagawa! May karagdagang tulong na maaasahan mula sa pamahalaan kapag nagkasakit ng COVID-19, lalo na po sa mga kababayan natin na araw-araw pumapasok sa trabaho at exposed sa virus,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, in a statement.
“Kadalasan kasi, walang choice po at ating mga manggagawa. It is either death by COVID or death by hunger. At pag nagkasakit ka ng dahil sa COVID, madalas pong naiiwan mag-isa ang may sakit. Wala nang tulong na maaasahan. Ngayon po, makakatakbo ang ating mga manggagawa sa ECC para sa saklolo,” he added.
Villanueva asked the ECC to ensure that the program is implemented smoothly and ensure the viability of it since the pandemic won’t be over at least in the short term.
“Much of the success of this program hinges on its efficient implementation. Tiwala po tayo sa DOLE at ECC na magiging masinop po sila sa pagpapatupad ng programang ito dahil matagal pa po ang laban natin sa pandemya,” Villanueva asked.
“Umaasa po tayo na hindi mauuwi sa mahabang pila o matagal na antayan ang ating manggagawa na tatakbo sa ECC para idulog ang kanilang sitwasyon. This can have dire, or even fatal, consequences, dahil ang nakasalalay dito ay ang pangtustos sa gamot at iba pang pangangailangan ng mga manggagawang magkakasakit sa COVID-19,” he further stated.
Last week, the ECC board classified COVID-19 as an occupational and work-related disease, allowing workers who get sick from it to seek financial assistance from the commission. The ECC board resolution No. 21-04-14 directed both the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System to streamline the processing of claims, as the administering agencies of the ECC.
A COVID-stricken worker is entitled to the following: loss-of-income benefits; medical services, appliances, and supplies; carers’ allowance; rehabilitation services; death benefits; and funeral benefits, according to the ECC board resolution. (AI/MTVN)