Recently, SSS issued a statement through its Vice-President for Public Affairs Ma. Luisa Sebastian wherein the agency dismissed Migrante’s opposition on the compulsory Php2,400 monthly SSS contribution for OFWs as baseless.
Migrante maintains its assertion that we OFWs were never consulted in the legislation and issuance of this unjust and extortionate policy. It was clear that there was no extensive public consultation conducted by SSS to seek the side of OFWs. None of Migrante’s chapters in 24 countries received any invitation or at least even a hint about SSS’ purported consultation.
We consider it ludicrous and insulting to Filipino migrants for SSS to claim that OFWs were already consulted through the attendance of recruitment agencies in the congressional hearing. Essentially, the stand of OFWs differs from that of private recruitment agencies. Our exclusion in the hearing only proves that the voices of OFWs are continually brushed aside by the authorities and by private agencies keen on squeezing the hard-earned money of Filipino overseas workers.
SSS better cease its constant insemination of falsehood by claiming that this new policy does not differ to the footing of voluntary or self-employed members. Under RA 11199 and its IRR, SSS will ensure the enforcement of the mandatory Php2,400 monthly exaction from OFWs. (That is if the contribution is based on the US$400 OFW minimum salary)
Worse, even before an OFW gets deployed, SSS will wrest Php7,200 or 3-months’ worth of contribution by means of including it in the list of required fees and exactions prior to getting provided with some of the documents (e.g. OEC) they need.
Reprehensibly, it is very clear from the law that OFWs will be burdened of paying Php2,400 in its entirety as long as there is no existing bilateral agreement with the host country. Why is the Duterte government rushing to implement it sans the bilateral agreement?
In addition, the ever-increasing rise in the prices of goods and services diminishes the purchasing power of our salaries and causes tremendous difficulties in our capacity to support the needs of our families. We can no longer consider our SSS contributions as “savings” if it’s compulsory and when the exorbitant amount robs us of the little savings that we ought to set apart for our augmenting needs like food, rent and bills payment for water, electricity and other utilities.
Did the SSS even try to evaluate and check out the situation of OFWs?
Obviously, SSS does not really care about the issues hounding OFWs. We would like to make it known to SSS officials that last year, POEA likewise issued a policy slapping re-hires and Balik Manggagawa with a US$144 mandatory insurance that includes almost the same benefits as that of SSS (except pension).
Just like the Php2,400 monthly SSS, this mandatory insurance is of no significance to OFWs. Instead, this is an attempt by the Duterte government to relinquish its responsibility of providing direct help to OFWs through subsidies for programs related to their welfare and those of their families.
It is the primary responsibility of the Philippine government to develop a better social security system. After decades of labor export program, it is disgraceful that the Philippine government is now even dragging other foreign countries in its attempt to fill its agency’s coffers. Meanwhile, SSS members and pensioners continue to receive meager crumbs as officials and executives in government agencies are lavished with excessive bonuses, salaries and perks.
If the Duterte government is really serious in providing social security to Filipinos, then it should be addressing the roots of forced migration. We Filipino migrants reiterate our opposition to RA 11199 for it is apparent that its disadvantages and troubles outweigh all its purported benefits.