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OFWs stage noisier ‘kalampagan’ vs. mandatory PhilHealth

01 June 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao
Balladares-Pelaez gave the signal for the start of the multi-site noise barrage from Chater Road

Filipino migrant groups have staged a “special edition” noise barrage in Central to demand the scrapping of mandatory membership in PhilHealth, which they warned will resume collecting sharply higher premiums this month.

Scores of overseas Filipino workers simultaneously banged pans, railings, plastic bottles and other receptacles at 2pm yesterday Sunday, after a signal from Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, on Chater Road.   

Other groups of migrants at Tamar Park, Hong Kong Bank, Star Ferry Pier, General Post Office and City Hall Bus 13 stop joined in the noise barrage to protest the collection of no less than 450% of the current premium paid by OFWs.

The protesters based their claim from a television interview on May 16 by Dr Shirley Domingo, PhilHealth spokesperson and vice president for corporate affairs, who said all  Filipinos working and living abroad will be charged the new rate starting Jun 1.

Under RA 11223 which took effect in December last year, all migrant workers must pay 3% of their monthly salary to PhilHealth. This means OFWs who used to pay a fixed annual premium of Php2,800 will now be forced to shell out no less than Php10,800 per year.

It is unclear, however, how the mandatory collection could be enforced as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has publicly stated that it will not allow the overseas employment certificate, which OFWs need to fly out of the country, linked to the payment of PhilHealth premium.
OFWs make noise to call for voluntary PhilHealth membership and lower premium

Responding to angry protests from hundreds of thousands of OFWs, President Rodrigo Duterte also directed on May 4 that contributions to PhilHealth would only voluntary amid the raging pandemic.

However, no written directive was issued to this effect, and PhilHealth has maintained its right to collect the mandatory contribution under RA 11223, also known as the Universal Health Care Act.

Balladares-Pelaez said it is necessary to show the government that the OFWs are united in opposing mandatory membership and the new PhilHealth premiums.

Last Wednesday, Migrante International leaders renewed in a global online rally their call against mandatory PhilHealth contribution and urged all Filipino workers to support House Bill 6698 which seeks to amend the law to make membership voluntary.

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