Makabayan’s amendatory bill on mandatory Philhealth gets strong backing from OFW advocacy group Migrante Int’l

Following the filing of House Resolution No. 00827 by Makabayan bloc legislators on Tuesday, 5 May 2020, directing the House Committee on Health to conduct an urgent review of President Duterte’s Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Healthcare Act, an amendatory bill was filed today pushing for voluntary Philhealth membership of overseas Filipinos. Bayan Muna Representatives Ferdinand Gaite, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Party-List Rep. Sarah Elago led the introduction of House Bill No. 6698 to the Congressional session today, 7 May 2020.

Welcoming the house resolutions initiated by the Makabayan bloc, Migrante International Chairperson Joanna Concepcion is hopeful that it will pave the way to finally put a stop on the imposition of the premium rate hike. “We are very grateful to the Makabayan bloc in Congress for raising the collective sentiments of Filipino migrants against the mandatory Philhealth exaction. This was signed and approved by President Duterte himself and even without the scourge of the COVID-19 crisis, OFWs will surely oppose this unjust and extortionate law.” 

President Duterte recently ordered suspension of Philhealth’s premium rate hike following international outrage from Filipino communities abroad. The resolution cited initiatives from Filipino migrants opposing its implementation. Among them is the online petition which has already garnered more than 410,000 signatories. A joint position statement was also launched by Migrante International signed by about 200 Filipino migrant organizations from different countries around the world. 

PHOTO: First Makabayan Bloc Zoom Presscon (7 May 2020) regarding the ABS-CBN Franchise, PhilHealth and the Universal Healthcare Law, and human rights violations and other concerns during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (Screengrabbed from Gabriela Women’s Party)

One of the arguments raised by House Resolution No. 00827 states, “PhilHealth should not be allowed to impose a premium rate hike, considering that it has P97 billion reserve funds and net income of P11.6 billion in 2018, not to mention its investment portfolio at P149 billion.” 

Meanwhile, the amendatory House Bill No. 6698 pointed out: “Suspending the PhilHealth premium increase only temporarily relieves the overseas Filipinos of the additional burden. There is a need to truly unburden the overseas Filipinos by allowing voluntary membership, removing the “double” payment, compounded interest for unpaid premium, and unjust premium increases by amending certain provisions of the Universal Health Care Law.”

Discontented by President Duterte’s mere suspension of the mandatory Philhealth collection and premium rate hike, Filipino migrant groups led by Migrante International are set to conduct an online protest on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 to express opposition against what they call “unjust and extortionate” provisions of Duterte’s Universal Healthcare Law.