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OFWs protest forced PhilHealth contribution, other mandatory fees

22 May 2022

By Daisy CL Mandatory 

Palma (with mic) asks why the govt is slow to give help but quick to collect fees

Several groups of Filipino migrant workers staged a protest Sunday against a raft of fees that the Philippine government is set to levy on them, including mandatory insurance and contributions to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and Pag-IBIG Fund.

The protest was held outside the United Centre building in Admiralty where the Philippine Consulate offices are located.

If the 5% premium on their monthly salary for Social Security System is collected at the same time, a Filipino domestic worker earning minimum wage would end up paying almost Php40,000 (more than HK6,000) for each year that they are working abroad.

Marites Palma, founder of Social Justice for Migrant Workers, said the planned collection of additional fees from all overseas Filipino worker is unconscionable and should be opposed.

Wala ni isang kusing na ibinibigay sa atin ang gobyerno, tapos tayo pa ang may utang ngayon?” she asked. (The government does not give us any cent, but it now appears we are  indebted to it)

Palma’s group has been carrying out fund-raising efforts to support the needs of OFWs in Hong Kong, particularly those who are undergoing quarantine and those who are sick and jobless.

A few of those who contracted Covid-19 did manage to collect the US$200 financial assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), she said, but this was only after a wait of up to three months.

Bakit ganoon katagal ang suporta? Pero kung maningil, ang bilis,” she added. (Why does it take them a long time to give support? When they manage to act quickly when they want to collect money from us).

Recently, the national health care agency, PhilHealth, announced that it would start collecting its 4% share of workers’ salaries, including overseas Filipinos, from next month. That will result in OFWs in Hong Kong paying no less than Php14,400 each year.

Another burden is the mandatory insurance that the Department of Labor and Employment ordered imposed on all OFWs as early as March this year, ostensibly to help ensure their safety and well-being during the continuing pandemic.

The premium imposed by Philippine agencies for what is essentially a life insurance on the worker, currently amounts to US$144 (Php7,488) for each two-year contract.

Added to this is the compulsory payment to the Pag-IBIG Fund, the government’s housing agency, which collects a minimum of Php1,200 per year for membership.

A Pag-IBIG executive said in a recent interview with The SUN that the announced agreement to tie up their collection of membeship fees from OFWs to the issuance of the overseas employment certificate is being done in stages, so it is currently still not being enforced in Hong Kong.

However, the agreement between Pag-IBIG and the soon-to-be-defunct Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has already been signed and published, and it will just be a matter of time before it is fully implemented. 

Asuncion says PhilHealth is useless and just serves as additional burdern on OFWs 

Nida Asuncion, vice chairperson of the Filipino Migrant Workers Union, said the forced membership of HK OFWs in PhilHealth is useless, as they are already covered by a medical cum life insurance that their employers here are obliged to take out in their name.

Those with families back in the Philippines won’t benefit from PhilHealth either, she said, as the government there requires all those aged 18 years old and above, to be covered by insurance as well.

So, saan napupunta ang koleksyon ng PhilHealth?” Asuncion asked. (So where does the money collected by PhilHealth go?).


She recalled that PhilHealth was embroiled in a corruption scandal, in which its board members allegedly misused Php18 billion in members’ funds.

Pera natin yun, pero walang nangyari,” she said  (That was our money, but nothing came out of that investigation).

Lei Besana, chairperson of Gabriela Hong Kong, also lamented why OFWs are being forced to pay for an insurance that is of no use to them.


She called on fellow OFWs to challenge the incoming administration of presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to do right by them and halt the collection of all the mandatory fees.

Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos-Migrante Hong Kong said in a statement that OFWs are trapped into paying for the various fees because they are all tied to the issuance of the overseas employment certificate or OEC, which vacationing workers need to get back to their workplace.


Particularly burdensome, she said, is the mandatory PhilHealth payment which will take a big chunk off an OFW’s already tight budget.

“What enrages us more is that we must pay the premiums annually even though we have no use for it,” she said.

Further, she said the anomalous transactions linked to at least two of the government agencies concerned make OFWs feel they have been turned into milking cows for corrupt officials.

“We cannot move past the PhilHealth scandal in the recent years, wherein 15Php billion was lost to corruption, or the anomalous SSS purchases. There was no resolution reached, and these scandals were swept under the rug. Can you blame us then for resisting these extortion schemes?,” she asked.


Pelaez said more mass actions are being planned to oppose the mandatory fees, not just in Hong Kong but in many key places abroad where there are a lot of OFWs.

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