DOLE wants private workers’ COVID benefits raised to P50K

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    LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello III yesterday said the Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) should give no less than P50,000 as compensation benefits to employees afflicted with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    In a virtual press briefing, Bello said he disagrees with the ECC policy granting merely P10,000 to employees who have caught the virus.

    “The minimum should be P50,000 when a worker gets sick and not just P10,000,” said Bello, stressing that P10,000 is too small to compensate the COVID-19-hit employees, including frontliners.

    “It’s merely P10,000! It’s not even enough to buy pain relievers. This is why we need to increase the benefits of our workers,” he said.

    The labor chief assured that the ECC has enough funds to increase the employees’ compensation.

    “It has P90 billion funds that is available to benefit employees,” said Bello, who also sits as ECC chairman of the board.

    The ECC provides P10,000 cash assistance under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP) to employees found positive of COVID-19. So far, it has already released P827 million to some 80,000 workers infected by COVID-19.

    The ECC also granted P20.7 million cash assistance for COVID-19 cases involving more than 2,000 frontline workers.

    Meanwhile, with the global economy slowly opening, Bello expressed hopes that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will remain safe from the virus.

    In a statement for the observance of International Migrants Day, Bello said he is hoping that OFWs will be shielded from the virus as they head overseas to earn a living.

    “We continue to pray for the health and safety of our OFWs so that they can happily rejoin their families back home,” Bello said, adding: “In these difficult times, we take our hats off to our OFWs around the world for their selfless sacrifices.”

    As for OFWs that were unable to survive COVID-19, the labor chief said they deserve to be called as true heroes.

    “They are truly our heroes. They fought a good fight because, just like what our migrant workers are known for, they worked tirelessly to make good for their families, and contributed enormously to our country,” Bello said.

    In recent months, more and more countries have started opening their economies to migrant workers.

    This comes after several months of being put on community lockdowns due to the threat of COVID-19.

    Data from the Department of Foreign Affairs shows that there have already been nearly 13,000 Filipinos abroad that were afflicted with COVID-19, including almost 900 deaths and 8,000 recovered.