“Scrap not suspension!” — OFWs on their Kalampagan protest against Duterte’s mandatory Philhealth and premium hike

Disappointed by Duterte’s mere suspension order on the mandatory Philhealth coverage and premium hike, OFWs demanded the scrapping of relevant provisions in Duterte’s Universal Healthcare Law. Following social distancing measures, Filipino migrants continued their weekly ‘Kalampagan’ protest to oppose what they call “unjust” and “extortionate” exactions imposed by the Duterte government. 

Dolores Balladares Pelaez of Migrante Hong Kong said, “we oppose this because no consultation was conducted among migrant workers. This is a burden for migrant workers and we really find this unnecessary since migrant workers are already covered by existing insurance programs in their respective countries.” Hong Kong based-Filipino migrant organizations have been banding together under RAGE Hong Kong or Rise Against Government Exactions, a broad alliance formed to express dissent against various state fees and collections. 

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“As long as the law is not amended, our Philhealth membership is far from becoming permanently voluntary,” Pelaez added. Meanwhile, Chat Dimaano of Migrante Korea urged Filipinos to support the amendatory House Bill No. 6698 filed by the Makabayan bloc on Tuesday last week, 7 May.

Mikee Santos of Migrante Aotearoa (New Zealand) stated, “the law and its guidelines should be amended to ensure that we’ll not end up with a mere suspension. We demand that the mandatory Philhealth for OFWs, legal residents and dual citizens be junked now.”

In addition to the global Kalampagan protest held every weekend, members of Migrante Philippines have been conducting relief missions under Cure COVID’s Damayang Migrante to reach out to stranded OFW domestic helpers and seafarers in dormitories and shelters in Metro Manila. Hundreds of stranded OFWs joined the StrandedPH community to call for mass testing, financial and transportation assistance for all OFWs experiencing the same plight. 

Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion said that an online global protest will be conducted by Filipino migrant organizations around the world to register their call for the immediate scrapping of the mandatory Philhealth and premium hike. “If OFWs did not raise their collective voice, the Duterte regime could have already succeeded in extorting OFWs through the mandatory Philhealth and premium hike. Filipino migrants are tired of being treated as milking cows by the Philippine government. We will continue to protest the unjust provisions of the law until it is totally scrapped. ” Concepcion concluded. The online global protest will be aired live from 1 PM to 2:30 PM (PH Standard Time) through Migrante International’s official Facebook page on Tuesday, 12 May 2020. 

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