Notwithstanding that last Friday’s public consultation organized by SSS on the Social Security Act of 2018 was replete with objections, the government agency sticks to its position with regards to the mandatory OFW contribution. Unruffled, the SSS management even presented to stakeholders the projected amount it can lay up through the new charter.
SSS is hankering to finalize the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) by June as the Duterte regime is itching for its full implementation and to fast track the extortionate mandatory SSS exaction that will amass billions from the hard-earned money of out toiling OFWs.
The Duterte regime is dying to designate huge portions of the SSS fund to finance his Build Build Build projects marred by onerous loans from China. What’s more, the funds will then be used as guarantee to foreign loans as part of the global neoliberal scheme to subsidize private profit.
Migrante International views SSS’ acquiescence to this unjust law as utter disregard of the perplexities that hound OFWs from pre-deployment to other issues related to their employment. It likewise failed to carefully consider the existing social security schemes in host countries deemed with more favour by Filipino migrant workers.
Part of our proposal was to have the IRR subjected to more exhaustive studies and consultations since the voices of grassroots OFWs were neglected during the previous deliberations but this too was rejected by the SSS management. Based on the report of SSS management, the attendance in the senate deliberations for the charter was overwhelmingly dominated by big recruitment agencies. The absence of grassroots migrant organizations representing land-based OFWs was glaring.
Sans a bilateral social security agreement with host countries, the new SSS charter regards OFWs as self-employed. Under this arrangement, every OFW will shoulder both employee and employer contributions. This is absurd since everyone knows that OFWs have employers. Notably, paying for both employer and employee contributions is an excessive burden to OFWs.
For seafarers, it’s the local manning agency that is regarded as the employer instead of the principal shipping or seafaring company. Thus in one way or another, this adds to the weight of third party players in the issue of labour contractualization where direct employer-employee relationship is not recognized.
During the discourse, President and CEO Aurora Ignacio Cruz claimed that SSS wants to secure the future of OFWs. However, did the government agency even attempt to lay eyes on the whole picture of various exactions ranging from OWWA, Philhealth, Pag-IBIG, training fees and even the upcoming mandatory insurance that pester our struggling OFWs? At full length, SSS empirically gave its account of OFW future with piecemeal treatment instead.
Gloating on its promises to Filipino migrant workers of benefits that won’t be readily made available to them unless misfortunes like death or miscarriage strike them, the government agency presented itself as the ultimate Santa Claus or messiah that will conclusively secure the future of OFWs.
Moreover, we OFW advocates can’t help but express dismay at how SSS has failed to demand government contribution for its operation as prescribed by Section 20 of RA 8282. Government employees in SSS do not source their salaries from government appropriation but from the contributions of SSS members.
This was raised by Migrante during the consultation but the SSS management dismissed it citing that government contribution was only meant in times of serious deficiencies in the working balance of the SSS funds. However, Migrante would like to remind SSS that under Section 20, that additional sum is only supplementary to the mandated government contribution clearly provided by the law to maintain SSS operation.
SSS failed to answer how much money the government has contributed to its fund. If it is true that the agency has not received a single penny from the present and previous regimes, this makes the Philippine government the most delinquent entity in terms of remitting contributions to SSS. Furthermore, many big private corporations are likewise derelict in remitting contributions. If SSS can’t make the entire government and big private corporations to follow the law, why oblige OFWs to abide by this unjust law?
We can’t help but look back at how very often in previous times, SSS has repeatedly complained about the decreased life span of its funds even in the midst of public uproar against the hefty perks and bonuses being enjoyed by its executives.
It is troubling that while citizens from other countries enjoy a more unified and comprehensive social security system with considerable government financial support, OFWs are beleaguered by hordes of agencies running after their hard-earned money like SSS, Philhealth, OWWA, Pag-IBIG, even private insurance and loan sharks with each entity motivated according to its greed.
As we have always raised, the Php2,400 mandatory monthly contribution stipulated under this new law is already too heavy a burden for OFWs and their families struggling with the ever rising cost of living in the Philippines.
Now that the Duterte regime is prodding SSS to expedite the IRR, the voices of OFWs will be drowned out by the government’s lust for heaps of cash. We foresee that the stubbornness of the regime to listen to our pleas will once again lead to the mandatory SSS exaction as a requirement for the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificates (OEC), another money-making scheme which should likewise be scrapped
Only a just political and economic societal order backed by a more comprehensive welfare security system can secure the future of OFWs. This is in line with the democratic aspirations of the Filipino people hinging on genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.
Migrante International will press on in calling for the complete junking of the mandatory SSS exaction and other extortionate schemes of the government. We shall never waver in rousing to mobilize OFWs both here and abroad to uphold the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants and their families.
Proteksyon, hindi koleksyon!
Serbisyo sa tao, huwag gawing negosyo!
Mandatory SSS exaction sa OFW, ibasura!
Links to position papers: