MIGRANTE SOUNDS ALARM: Duterte regime to amass hundreds of billions from forced SSS exactions on OFWs

OFW-group Migrante expressed its strongest opposition against the bicameral approval of the bill imposing the mandatory SSS for all OFWs.

From the Php 4.64 Billion worth of voluntary contributions garnered by SSS from OFWs in 2016, the amount is set to increase by 3000 % next year 2019. According to Migrante’s estimate, that would translate to Php 144 Billion in the first year of implementation alone.

Duterte Gatasang Baka

“The Duterte regime will be amassing hundreds of billions from SSS collections at the expense of OFWs who are already burdened by numerous state exactions. Forcing all OFWs to be covered as compulsory SSS members is outrageous since this exaction will be on top of the US$144 mandatory insurance recently enacted under the Duterte regime through POEA,” Migrante International spokesperson Arman Hernando said.

Under the proposed Social Security Act of 2018, the mandatory SSS membership will include both sea-based and land-based OFWs as the monthly contribution rate is set to go up to 12 % or Php 2,400 per month in 2019. From then on, Migrante warned that it is expected to gradually increase reaching 15 % by 2025.

As early as March 2017, SSS president and chief executive Emmanuel F. Dooc has been pushing for its passage. In previous years, Migrante said that OFWs were successful in opposing the mandatory SSS contribution even during the early stages of the proposal way back in the time of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo up to the Aquino administration. Migrante deplores the bicameral approval as a railroading of the bill since no extensive consultations among OFWs were ever conducted by SSS.

The bill will necessitate the government to negotiate labor agreements with host countries to compel foreign employers to pay the required monthly contribution for OFWs.

“In the case that host countries refuse to get the compliance of foreign employers on this SSS scheme, OFWs themselves will be forced to fully pay for the entire monthly contribution rate. That is painful considering that many OFWs are enslaved through unpaid work besides suffering from other contract violations,” Hernando lamented.

Hernando likewise warned that this could incite antagonism from foreign employers against OFWs for just recently, POEA issued a resolution requiring employers to pay for the premium for the insurance coverage of returning OFWs.

Furthermore, Hernando also said that the outcome of this SSS scheme would likely be similar to the scandals that rocked the government in previous years due to the fat bonuses received by SSS executives.

“We are alarmed considering that in times past, huge sums of money from SSS collections have ended up as hefty perks and bonuses for government executives while SSS members have to content themselves with minuscule pensions and benefits. It is appalling that the Duterte regime had the temerity to push this bill just when the election campaign season is about to kick-start a few months from now. What impression are they trying to convey to OFWs and their families from this timing?” Hernando asserted.

Once the bill gets signed by Duterte, it will be the largest monetary accumulation imposed by the government on OFWs in the history of the Philippines’ labor export program. Migrante vowed to vigorously block the compulsory SSS contributions for OFWs.

“We will never allow this sinister policy to plunder our OFWs. This is the time for OFWs and their families to unite and resist this vicious attack against our subsistence. We have already demonstrated in the past that we can emerge victorious in our collective struggles. Together let us charge forward and strongly oppose this extortionate policy of the Duterte regime,” Hernando concluded.

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