Bishop urges gov’t to stop premium hikes for OFWs

Bishop urges gov’t to stop premium hikes for OFWs

By CBCP News

June 19, 2019

Manila, Philippines

Instead of adding burdens to overseas Filipino workers, the government should freeze all premium hikes to be collected from them, a church official said.

“There should be a moratorium on the said increase of contributions,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, who heads the CBCP’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.

The prelate made the statement amid the scheduled increases in OFW contributions to the Social Security System and Philhealth.

“It is added financial burden and will cause more difficulties to our OFWs,” he said. “Our OFWs should be assisted, helped and promoted not to be burdened.”

The bishop warned that the new increased rates are “unfair” and impaired the existing employment contracts of the migrants workers.

He also opposed certain provisions in the new social security law that would tie-up OFW collections with the issuance of an overseas employment certificate.

The new law requires newly hired OFWS to pay in advance the P960 per month SSS premium while returning workers will pay a three-month advance contribution amounting to P2,880 or they will not be issued the mandatory working permits.

“This will discourage foreign employers of hiring OFWs,” said Santos, adding that memberships should be “voluntary and encouraged”.

A non-government organization (NGO) on labor migration earlier warned that the increases in contributions would likely push more workers away from existing legal deployment channels.

“The outlook for our overseas workers is not at its brightest, with tensions rising throughout the Middle East and ongoing protests in Hong Kong over a hotly contested legislation, among other challenges,” said Susan Ople, former labor undersecretary and head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, adding that the salaries of Filipino domestic workers abroad have been stagnant for more than a decade.

“Asking them to pay that much considering that they will be away from the country for at least two years, would cause undue burden given their vulnerable status and work conditions,” Ople said.