Migrante Europe today expressed strong disapproval on the announcement of state-run Social Security System to impose mandatory membership and membership payments of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
SSS president and chief executive Emmanuel F. Dooc made the announcement last weekend, pushing for all OFWs to be covered by the SSS on a mandatory basis, supposedly “in order to secure their basic safety net in time of contingencies.” The mandatory OFW coverage is one of the proposed amendments to the SSS charter now pending in Congress.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), there are 2.4 million OFWs as of 2016, and only 20% or 500,000 are paying members of the SSS, with contributions reaching P4.64billion in 2016. In the same year, SSS disbursed P779 million in benefits to its OFW members. These include initial and lump sum benefits to retirement, death, (funeral with grant) and disability, and short-term benefits for sickness and maternity (for female workers).
OFWs all over the world cheered the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by 41 airline companies with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will take effect on 30 April, completely abolishing terminal fees paid by OFWs. But now they are once again dismayed by this announcement of mandatory SSS membership and payments.
“With the OFWs’ huge contribution to the Philippine economy, basic social services should be provided freely to them by the government. That is guaranteed by R.A. No. 10022, an act amending R.A. No. 8042, otherwise known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. This law mandates the government to provide for the protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress, and for other purposes.” stated Fr. Herbert Fadriquela, Migrante Europe Chairperson.
“Overseas Filipinos reject this additional financial imposition,”
declared Fr. Herbert.
In 2007, a global protest of Philippine migrant groups erupted when the Gloria Arroyo government attempted to impose mandatory SSS contributions, and made it a requirement for the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). The OEC is a requirement for every OFW who leaves the country. For new hires, the OEC will not be issued unless they pay additional compulsory fees for every contract processed.
Amidst the widespread protests, the Arroyo government backed down on its proposal.
In Europe, regular migrant workers contribute to their host countries’ social security system through monthly deductions from their salaries and contributions from their employers. In Italy for example, through the INPS (equivalent to SSS), OFWs are also entitled to social protection and pension benefits like family allowance, unemployment allowance, health and maternity benefits, invalidity allowance, disability pension, length of service pension, old age pension and survivor’s pension.
“We are definitely against the mandatory SSS membership and payments. This is a double burden for us and a blatant attempt to extract more money from OFWs’ hard-earned income. Every individual should be free to choose to be an SSS member or not, it should not be obligatory!” concluded Fr. Herbert.
Revd Fr. Herbert F. Fadriquela Jr.
Chairperson, Migrante Europe
Chaplain to the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester
Church of England
Mobile No: +447456042156
Secretary General, Migrante Europe
Mobile No. (+39)-3278825544