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Filipino migrants vow to stop continuing mandatory insurance for OFWs

08 October 2018

POEA wants all OFWs, old and new, to have insurance
By The SUN

The biggest Filipino migrant organization in Hong Kong has vowed to stop the implementation of a new plan by the Philippine government to require all Filipino workers to be covered by insurance for as long as they are working abroad.

Under Resolution No 4 of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), all OFWs returning to the same employer, or have moved to another, must also have an insurance coverage similar to that required of those leaving for their first job abroad.

This two-year insurance coverage currently costs US$144 or $1,200.

Under existing law, the insurance, which can only be secured from an accredited insurer in the Philippines, is required only for first-time OFWs. Those who are renewing their contracts or moving to another employer are merely advised to renew their coverage, either by paying for the premium themselves, or requesting their employers to do so.

Unifil says the new scheme will add to the burden of OFWs
“The new POEA order on mandatory insurance is just another money-making scheme for the already burdened OFWs that can even cost us our job,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante HK) in a statement.

She vowed protest actions to ensure the resolution does not get implemented.

“We will not take this sitting down. Expect (us to) meet the POEA governing board resolution no. 04 with a protest. We will make sure that this exaction will not push through,” Balladares-Pelaez said.

Resolution No 4 was signed on Aug 17 by the POEA Governing Board led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, but was date-stamped on Sept. 4. It is supposed to take effect 15 days after the publication of its implementing guidelines.

Asked if they were aware of the new measure, or whether they knew when it would be implemented, Labor Attache Nida Romulo told The SUN she had no official information about it.

Migrant leaders had hoped to get a reaction from Secretary Bello when he breezed into town on Saturday, Sept 29, but he reportedly stayed only briefly,  and met only with officers and staff of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office. 
Bello (in barong) was guest of honor at the opening of
Jollibee Macau (photo from ABS-CBN)

The day before, Bello was the guest of honor at the inauguration of the first Jollibee outlet in Macau. Also present at the event was Jollibee Foods Corporation founder Tony Tan Cak-tiong

In her statement, the Unifil leader said she doubts if employers will pay for the additional insurance, as mandated by Resolution No 4. Thus, it would become an additional burden for OFWs already hit by the soaring prices of basic goods in the Philippines.

“Employers in Hong Kong are already required by law to get insurance for their domestic workers. If they don’t get one, and something happens to their worker, (the) employers will be liable,” said Balladares-Pelaez.

She argued the new measure could also lead to OFWs losing their jobs because of tension with employers who would surely resist the new imposition.

Balladares-Pelaez surmised the additional collection from the full-scale mandatory insurance is intended to raise money for the administration candidates in next year’s senatorial elections, which could include Bello.

“The Duterte government and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III are responsible for this additional fee for overseas Filipinos. Duterte and Bello are bleeding us dry. The longer they are in power, the more miserable the lives of the Filipino people, and especially migrants, are,” she said.

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