The Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) headed by Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis continues to soar high with the implementation of its recent reform policies and programs anchored on a strategic framework aptly called ‘3Es’ – Equalize, Enhance, and Expand in response to the challenges facing the EC Program.

The 3Es strategy is aimed at improving the Commission’s existing EC policies and programs, thus, staying true to its mandate to upgrade and make relevant the benefits that employees may avail if they suffer from work-related contingencies.

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 54 which increased EC benefits that employees and/or their beneficiaries may avail. This is in addition to the earlier prescription of speedy processing of EC claims both at the GSIS and SSS, and the reduced process cycle time of EC appealed cases from 40 working days to 20 working days.

Under the new EO, the ECC grants an additional Php1,150 in EC monthly pension of all EC permanent disability and survivorship pensioners in the private sector  retroactive to January 2017. Carer’s allowance both in the public and private sector is also increased from Php575.00 to Php1,000.00 per month.

Other enhanced benefits for the private sector include the increase in the amount of EC temporary total disability or sickness benefits from a minimum daily income benefit of Php10.00 to Php110.00 and from a maximum daily income benefit of Php200.00 to Php480.00. The amount of reimbursement for physical therapy sessions under the EC medical benefits in the private sector is now increased from Php65.00 per session to a maximum of Php500.00 per session.

Reimbursement rates for professional fees of physicians under the EC medical benefits in the private sector has also been increased from Php100 for a general practitioner (GP) and Php150 for a specialist during the initial visit to Php400 per day for a GP and Php600 for a specialist during the daily ward visits and a maximum of Php1600 for a GP and Php2400 for a specialist per confinement. For ICU/CCU Ward, rates per day for a GP is Php800 and Php1200 for a specialist, and a maximum of Php3200 for a GP and Php4800 for a specialist per confinement.

Earlier increases in EC benefits also include funeral benefits from P3,000.00 and P10,000.00 to P30,000.00 for government and private sector workers respectively, lifting of suspended EC benefits for the government sector, and improved rehabilitation services such as the provision of cash assistance and the increase in the amount of starter kits and transportation/meal allowance for trainees undergoing free medical rehabilitation or skills/entrepreneurial training.

“The ‘3Es’ – Equalize, Enhance, and Expand strategy has been a relevant framework and guide in living out ECC’s commitment of providing a more responsive package of benefits and services to persons with work-related disabilities (PWRDs),” said DOLE Secretary and ECC Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III.

According to Bello, the ECC will continue to make reforms that will better serve all Filipino workers but he also reminded everyone that though there is an EC program, the primacy of safety and health in the workplace should be recognized and promoted by all stakeholders.

Recently, the ECC and the SSS have prepared the guidelines for the coverage of self-employed workers under the ECP as an actuarial study showed that the State Insurance Fund has the capacity to finance this new initiative towards universal coverage of all workers under the EC Program.

“The ECC is pursuing the establishment of a rehabilitation center. We are also working to advance our Return to Work Program for PWRDs, ECP’s primary stakeholder,” said ECC Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis.

For the past 43 years, the ECC has been providing support and assistance to all Filipino workers who suffered from work-related sickness, injury or death. As of date, the ECC has already granted almost P39 billion worth of benefits to more than 6 million claims. From January to September 2018 alone, the ECC paid P898 million for 183,199 EC claims in the private sector and P158.92 million for payment of  29,341 EC claims in the public sector. Based on the actuarial valuation by SSS and GSIS, workers in the private sector are assured of their benefits under the EC Program until beyond 2080 while the fund life of the EC SIF at the GSIS is until 2059.

“As we celebrate ECC’s 44 years in the government service, we ensure the public that we will continue to implement effective long term financial plans to secure the stability of State Insurance Fund (SIF) and execute projects that will enhance the EC Program for the betterment of persons with work-related disabilities (PWRDs),” Executive Director Banawis added.