The labor department said workers who died or were injured at the bunkhouse accident in Cebu City are entitled to receive benefits under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP).
“It was an unfortunate accident but we want to assure the workers and their families of the assistance from the Employees’ Compensation Commission,” ECC chairman and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.
ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said under Board Resolution No. 12-01-02, injuries and the resulting disabilities or death sustained by stay-in local employees within the quarters furnished by the employers are compensable under the ECP, regardless of the time of its occurrence.
She said that the so-called ‘bunkhouse rule’ is applicable to the plight of the afflicted employees who were working on the construction projects of J.E. Abraham Lee Construction and Development, Inc. The 30-foot tall bunkhouse, which served as the shelter for more than 150 workers, collapsed in the early morning of March 6 when most of the occupants were still asleep. Five died and 57 were injured, as a result of the accident.
“We are just waiting for the official list of casualties from the local authorities in order for the Social Security System (SSS), the administering agency of the ECP for the private sector, to immediately process and release their corresponding benefits,” Bello added, citing the policy for processing and release of benefits for the victims of large-scale obvious work-related accidents.
He added that the said list will serve as a sufficient basis for the processing and subsequent release of the EC benefits of the affected workers, sparing them from the submission of several documentary requirements.
The labor chief also emphasized that the ECP coverage of the workers will not depend on whether they are enrolled by their companies under the SSS or if their companies are religiously remitting their contributions.
“As long as they have an employment relationship with their respective companies, they are entitled to the benefits and services of the ECP. However, if the companies failed to enroll their workers under the SSS, or they do not remit their SSS contributions, they will be liable for the 50 percent of the lump sum benefits of their workers,” Bello added.
The affected workers will be entitled to loss of income benefits, medical benefits, carer’s allowance, death pension, and rehabilitation services under the ECP. Aside from these, they are also qualified to avail of the benefits under the ECC’s Katulong at Gabay ng Manggagawang May Kapansanan, or KaGabay Program. The said program enables the Persons with Work-Related Disability (PWRD) to avail of physical therapy, skills or entrepreneurial training, and livelihood assistance.
Bello said that the regional officers of the ECC-Regional Extension Unit No. 7 has been dispatched to assist the workers and their families, in terms of their benefits and privileges availment under the ECP.