The Employees’ Compensation Commission has approved higher sickness benefits and cash assistance for workers who will contract COVID-19, among other diseases.
The Civil Service Commission also ruled on Wednesday that workers who had to skip work due to COVID-19 related quarantine, isolation or treatment are considered excused.
Based on the ECC recommendation, workers who will get sick will receive P600 per day in sickness benefit and P30,000 in cash assistance.
“We have already submitted this to Malacañang,” ECC executive director Stella Banawis said.\
At present, workers stand to receive P480 in sickness benefit and P10,00 cash assistance which they can apply for with the Social Security System and the Government Service Insurance System.
Meanwhile, the CSC issued Resolution 2101122 which amended the interim guidelines on the use of leave credits for absences due to COVID 19-related quarantine or treatment.
“Absence from work for every instance of the required quarantine period, isolation, and/or treatment for government workers who are infected or identified as close contacts of a suspect, probable, and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 while in the performance of their official functions (onsite or WFH arrangement) shall be considered as excused absence,” the commission said in the resolution.
The commission also cited the need to consider the predicament of government workers, aside from public health care workers, who are repeatedly exposed to COVID-19 in performing their official duties due to face-to-face interaction with clients and co-workers, or due to community transmission.
Government workers, the commission also said, may be required to adopt work-from-home arrangements, adding that it may depend on the nature of the particular workers’ work in pursuant to the agency’s guidelines on alternative work arrangements.
Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said there was a need to apologize to the public because the “no vax, no ride” policy was not adequately explained.
Bello on Tuesday said workers in industries allowed under Alert Level 3 are exempted from the “no vaccination, no ride” policy as they render essential services.
He said implementers of the policy might have just forgotten that workers were not covered by the ban.
Maybe in their enthusiasm to protect the public, they forgot that workers are exempted, he added.
Bello said unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers only need to present their company IDs for them to be allowed in public utility vehicles.
A lawmaker on Wednesday sought a congressional inquiry into what she said was an illegal and discriminatory policy.
In a resolution, Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas urged the House committee on health and committee on transportation to ask transport officials and affected sectors about the implementation of DOTr Order No. 001-2022.
Brosas said reports reaching her office revealed that the policy has caused severe inconvenience to unvaccinated commuters within Metro Manila and those seeking to travel to Metro Manila, and reduced incomes for jeepney drivers and operators.
“Our public transport system is already a mess. Why worsen the burden of Filipino commuters with the highly discriminatory and repressive No Vax No Ride policy? The Duterte regime is weaponizing the vaccine mandate to employ fascist tools for social control,” Brosas said.
She also denounced the Transportation Department’s order as “devoid of any legal basis.”
In the Senate, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian recommended the government put an end to its “no vax, no ride” to avoid chaos and confusion among commuters.
Since all these commuters are workers, he said the policy should no longer be implemented.
Senator Risa Hontiveros said public transportation is an essential service for all.
As such, the public, especially workers, should not be deprived of their use, whether they are vaccinated or not.
She also described as “nonsense” the need for commuters to prove that they are “essential workers” before riding in a public transport
Senator Aqulino Pimentel III on Wednesday branded as discriminatory the government’s “no vaccine, no ride” policy,” saying it only targets the poor.
He said there was no valid reason to treat the vaccinated differently from the unvaccinated when it comes to who can transmit the coronavirus, as both can.
Also on Wednesday, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) announced that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated minors (below 18 years old) will be allowed to travel if they are returning residents and accompanied by a fully inoculated adult.
The airline will require proof of residency along with existing requirements from local government units.
CEB management stated that exempted from the No Vaccination, No Fly policy are persons with medical conditions that prevent full COVID-19 vaccination, and those who will procure essential goods and services.