Compensation Program for Families of Missing Workers Pushed in Congress

A bill providing for benefits to the families of workers who are missing or are in danger of death has been filed in Congress by Representative Emmeline Y. Aglipay – Villar of the DIWA (Democratic Independent Workers’ Association) Party-list. The bill, entitled “Missing Employees Compensation Act”, aims to address the unfortunate predicament of families of workers who went missing due to work related causes under circumstances which make death likely, but not been missing long enough to be legally presumed dead.

Under this proposed compensation program, families of missing workers need not wait for their missing loved ones to be legally presumed dead before they can expect compensation from the State. “While the State mandates compensation in the form of death benefits and disability benefits, the family of a worker who has been missing under circumstances which make his or her death likely – for example, when a seafarer is lost at sea – receives nothing until he or she is presumed dead under the law,” said Diwa Party-list Rep. Emmeline Y. Aglipay – Villar, the bill’s author.

A known advocate of the Filipino workers’ economic welfare and interest, Rep. Aglipay – Villar cited the incident last February 26, 2015 of Taiwanese fishing vessel Hsiang Fu Chun, along with its thirteen Filipino crew members, which went missing in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Less than two months before that, cargo vessel Bulk Jupiter sank off Vietnam, resulting in the death of 2 Filipino crew members, with 16 others still missing. She explained, “While the law may be able to provide immediate compensation to the families of those who have been confirmed dead, the families of those who are still missing would still have to wait for their missing relatives to be legally presumed dead. The least we can do is to make the waiting less burdensome”.

Under the Civil Code, a person on board a vessel lost during a sea voyage can only be presumed dead after he or she has not been heard of for four years since the loss of the vessel. “It is unfortunate enough that these families have to endure the pain and suffering of losing a loved one, but they would still have to figure out how to make ends meet until they are properly compensated for their loss,” she said.

Under the proposed bill, the family of any missing employee shall, for each month until his or her death has been confirmed or legally presumed, be paid by the SSS an amount equivalent to at least his or her monthly income benefit.