MANILA, Philippines – The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) has temporarily halted online applications for its COVID-19 assistance program due to pending requests from 2021, ECC executive director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said in a Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, January 22.
The ECC benefits, for any worker who tested positive for COVID-19 due to work-related reasons, are a top-up amount to the primary compensation benefits from the Social Security System (SSS) or the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
“Hindi kami nag-re-receive ng online application dahil tinatapos po namin ‘yung pending pa sa amin na received natin last year na mga application for cash assistance, dahil medyo naubusan din tayo ng budget last year,” said Banawis.
(We are not receiving online applications now because we are still attending to the pending cash assistance applications we received last year, because our budget ran out last year.)
“Kaya tinatapos po namin, bago namin buksan ulit ‘yung online application for cash assistance (We will finish the backlog first before we open online applications for cash assistance again),” she added.
Banawis said the SSS and GSIS have processed more than 81,000 employees compensation (EC) claims related to COVID-19, while the ECC has processed more than 24,000 top-ups.
The ECC offers P10,000 for qualified workers who test positive for COVID-19, and P15,000 for employees who die from the disease.
According to Banawis, applications with the ECC take two months to process, on average.
She attributed the delays to alternative working arrangements and how a number of workers and doctors in the ECC have also tested positive for COVID-19.
“We ask for the understanding of those applying for cash assistance [with the ECC], and even those applying with the SSS or GSIS, that there are many factors as to why we are not able to process applications immediately,” Banawis said in Filipino.
The ECC said it is in constant talks with the insurance agencies to lessen documentary processes to expedite the release of the benefits.
Requirements include application forms and an antigen or RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) test result. Workers also need to submit documents showing when they physically appeared to work, because evaluators will determine whether the infection was work-related. The ECC will only cover work-related cases.
Banawis also said that there is no prescriptive period – meaning, the ECC will take applications regardless of when the worker contracted COVID-19.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced on Tuesday, January 18, that workers were exempted from the controversial “no vaccination, no ride” policy for public transportation in Metro Manila.
The Philippines continues to face an unprecedented surge of coronavirus cases driven by the highly-infectious Omicron variant. More than 291,000 cases are active.
On Friday, January 21, the country recorded 32,744 new cases. – Rappler.com