Baldoz pledges faster processing of EC benefits for families of injured, or slain PNP-SAF in Maguindanao tragedy

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday directed the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC), an agency of the DOLE, to work for the speedy processing and release of employee compensation (EC) benefits due to the families of the members of the PNP-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) who were killed or injured in a clash with elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

In a directive to ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis, Baldoz said the ECC should work closely with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to facilitate the speedy processing and payment of the police officers’ EC claims and benefits that could help assuage the grief of their families.

“We know that these EC claims and benefits cannot bring back to life those who sacrificed their lives for the country, but in a way, somehow, these might ease the emotional and material burden of the wives and children, as well as the relatives of our uniformed personnel who perished or were injured in this unfortunate event,” Baldoz said.

Following the Secretary’s directive, Banawis reported that the GSIS is open to the proposal of the ECC to require only the barest minimum documentation to speed up the process.

Under the EC Program, the dependents of the slain officers are entitled to death benefits—monthly pension, still to be determined, for the surviving spouse until she remarries, and 10 percent of the surviving spouse’s pension for up to five children until they reach the age of 21—and funeral benefits of P20,000.
Those who sustained work-related injury are entitled to loss of income benefits, a cash benefit to compensate for loss of income due to inability to work. There are three types of loss of income benefits: temporary total disability, permanent total disability, and permanent partial disability.

For medical benefits, they are entitled to reimbursement for the cost of medicines for the illness or injury; payment to providers of medical care; hospital care; surgical expenses; and the costs of appliances and supplies they availed of from accredited hospitals.

Those who will suffer permanent total disability arising from an injury they suffer from the encounter can also receive carer’s allowance.

For the heirs of those who died and the injured survivors, they can also avail of assistance from the ECC under its Katulong at Gabay sa Manggagawang may Kapansanan (KaGabay), a special economic program for people with work-related diseases and the heirs of those who died in the line of duty that aims to facilitate their integration into the economic mainstream through physical restoration, training for re-employment, or self-entrepreneurship.

The KaGabay Program offers physical restoration, or the provision of physical or occupational therapy services, including assistive devices, such as prosthesis, hearing aid, braces, wheelchair, etc. It also offers skills training for re-employment so that the worker can acquire new competencies or skills, but subject on his potentials and residual functional capacity; and entrepreneurship training in accredited training institutions to enable the worker to set up home-based business. The ECC may offer start-up capital in kind, not cash, to those who wish to venture into business.

“These benefits are purely employment compensation and do not include other benefits due to the police officers as government workers,” Baldoz emphasized.

She said EC benefits for private and public sector workers have recently been ‘equalized’ with the approval by President Benigno S. Aquino III of two executive orders shortly before Labor Day last year granting carer’s allowance to public sector pensioners and increasing the amount of employment compensation (EC) benefits, also for employees in the public sector.

The President signed the orders after the ECC approved an increase of the employees’ compensation allowance benefits and the grant of carer’s allowance to government pensioners which brings the EC benefits received by government workers at par with those being received by private sector workers.

“Only under the present administration that the long-time disparity in EC benefits between workers in government and workers in the private sector had been addressed,” Baldoz said.

Under E.O. 134, the ECC will grant a carer’s allowance of P575 per month for government pensioners with permanent partial disability and permanent total disability, the amount of which will reach a total of P11.102 million in additional benefits to beneficiaries every year.

“The carer’s allowance has not been provided to public sector ECC member-workers although it has been enjoyed by private sector ECC member-workers since 1991,” said Baldoz.

The ECC has also lifted the five-year suspension on the grant of survivorship pension effective August 2012 and which will benefit an estimated 21,536 retired government pensioners to the amount of P439.334 million every year.

The increase of P110 in temporary total disability benefit, from P90 to P200 per day will entail a total of P32.693 million per year.

The ECC increased the professional/doctor’s fees (general practitioner), from P60 to P100 for first consultation; and from P60 to P80 for succeeding consultations; for specialists (doctors), from P50 to P150 for initial consultation and P50 to P100 for succeeding consultations. This will entail estimated total benefits of P559,680 per year.

It also increased government workers’ funeral benefits from P3,000 to P10,000 that would amount to an estimated P1.442 million in benefits per year.

In the meantime, Banawis also reported to Baldoz that she had directed the immediate activation of the ECC’s Quick Response Team (ECC-QRT).

“The QRT will provide immediate help to the families in the form of psycho-social counseling and assistance, and in the filing of EC claim with the GSIS,” she added.

She disclosed that the ECC will dispatch a QRT tomorrow to Camp Bagong Diwa where the remains of the 44 SAF personnel will be laid in state. Other QRTs in regions where the ECC has extension offices have also been instructed to visit the families of the victims in their respective areas at the soonest possible time.

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