Persons with work-related disabilities (PWRDs) in Central Luzon are ready to start anew and rebuild their lives through the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC)’s Katulong at Gabay sa Manggawang may Kapansanan (KaGabay) Program, a special economic assistance program for PWRDs who lost employment because of work-related sickness or injury.

Thirty-nine PWRDs attended the Starting and Managing a Small Business training at the DOLE Clark Training Room, Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga last January 31 where representatives from ECC, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) joined hands in educating the participants on their rights as workers and on ways on how they can uplift their lives through engaging in entrepreneurial activities.

“We conduct these livelihood trainings every year in order to assist our identified PWRDs return to the economic mainstream,” said ECC-Regional Extension Unit III (REU3)’s Administrative Officer, Coco Chanel Garcia.

To inform the participants of their rights and benefits under the Employees’ Compensation Program (ECP), ECC-REU3’s Information Officer II, Danica Lacson, discussed the function of ECC and the benefits under the ECP that workers who experienced work-related contingency may avail, as well as, the program’s coverage, compensability, and availing process.

As part of its initiative to provide, not only monetary benefits, but also the needed skills and knowledge for PWRDs to start their business, the ECC, through its KaGabay Program, invited Janyn Lyza Malig, Business Counselor from DTI, to share her know-hows on starting and managing a business to the participants. She advised the PWRDs to choose a venture based on their interest and the opportunities existing within their vicinity. She added that they must have the willingness to learn and the discipline to keep the business going.

Jose Roberto Navata, Officer-In-Charge and Senior Labor and Employment Officer of DOLE Clark Satellite Office, informed the PWRDs of their rights and benefits under the General Labor Standards. He also welcomed questions and concerns from the participants concerning their employment.

Garcia then facilitated the participants’ creation of business plans to ensure that the livelihood starter kit to be granted to the PWRDs will be put into good use.

Through its KaGabay Program, ECC provides PWRDs with opportunities to acquire new skills for re-employment or to set-up businesses, on top of the monetary benefits afforded to them under the ECP. “We encourage all employers whose employees had work-related injuries or illnesses to enroll said employee to the KaGabay Program,” said Garcia.

In 2019, the Commission granted more than 8.7 million worth of livelihood benefits to more than 400 PWRDs who qualified for the KaGabay Program.

“Other than the monetary benefits the ECC provide, we also help the PWRDs by assisting them in their efforts to start anew and return to the economic mainstream. Thus, we give them the training they need to start their business, we allow them to uplift themselves and be productive and active citizens once again,” ECC’s Executive Director Stella Zipagan-Banawis said.

By Danica Lacson, ECC-REU3 Information Officer II