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Migrant group protests mandatory SSS, insurance for OFWs

21 March 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap
Image may contain: 4 people, including Dolores Balladares Pelaez and Vicky Casia, people standing
Unifil-Migrante protesters say mandatory SSS will add to OFWs' burden

A group of Filipino migrant workers staged a protest outside the Philippine Consulate offices today, Mar 21, against a new law that requires all overseas Filipino workers to pay for SSS contributions. Republic Act 11199 or the SSS Act of 2018, is expected to take effect next month.

The protesters, led by United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante) said the forced SSS contribution, pegged at a maximum of Php2,400 (HK$356) per month, would impose an additional burden on OFWs struggling to make ends meet.
Unifil chair Dolores Balladares-Pelaez said that if the Social Security System is worried about depleting its fund because of an earlier law that granted an additional Php1,000 to members’ monthly pensions, it should just step up its collection instead of burdening migrant workers.

“Noong isang taon (2017) Php13 billion ang hindi nakolekta sa mga employer, bakit hindi sila ang habulin?”, asked Balladares-Pelaez.
She also said SSS should stop paying fat allowances to its officers to keep itself afloat.

Reports published previously showed that SSS executives had each been paid between Php1.6 million to Php5million a year in salaries and allowances.

“Bakit tayo ang magpapasan sa korapsyon sa SSS?” she asked.
But she stressed that her group has nothing against OFWs who choose to be SSS members, but not all of them should be compelled to pay for membership contributions.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
SSS representative in Hong Kong, John Lester Mata, said the fear that the monthly contribution would cause a heavy burden on OFWs, especially the new arrivals, may be unfounded.

Under the proposed implementing rules and regulations of SSS Act of 2018, he said an OFW departing from the Philippines for the first time will be charged only a month’s contribution, and it need not be the maximum Php2,400, but only the Php960 minimum.

But OFWs renewing their contracts will be charged three months’ worth of contributions.
Previously, the minimum contribution was Php550 and the maximum was Php1,760.

He said the forced contribution could be implemented sometime next month, after the SSS conducts an internal consultation meeting.

During this time, a memorandum of agreement among SSS, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs would be signed to ensure the enforcement of mandatory contribution of OFWs.

Asked what assurance he could give to OFWs about the benefits of paying their SSS contributions, Mata said, “As we have said before, wala namang benepisyo na hindi binabayaran ang SSS.”

Mata also reiterated that if revenues are not boosted soon, the SSS fund could be depleted by the year 2027. But with the new measures including mandatory OFW and higher contributions, the fund could be kept intact until 2045.

Meanwhile, the protesters also hit out at a resolution surreptitiously passed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Board on Aug 28 last year, mandating all OFWs to pay for life and medical insurance.

The implementing rules for the POEA resolution have yet to be issued, although Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre confirmed its existence at a public forum last November.

If implemented, each land-based OFW would have to shell out an extra US$144, or HK$1,200 for every two-year contract.

Balladares-Pelaez said mandatory insurance is not necessary, especially for Filipino workers in Hong Kong, because their employers are already obliged under the law to take out insurance on them to cover any untoward incident.

Here's a short clip on her statement:


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