Nagkakaisang Pahayag ng mga OFWs sa Hong Kong Laban sa Mandatory SSS Membership at sa Hindi Makatwirang Pagtataas ng Monthly Contribution

Noong October 8, 2018, ipinasa ng Senado at Kongreso ang Senate Bill 1753 o Social Security Act of 2018, na naglalayong gawing mandatory ang membership sa SSS ng lahat ng OFWs. Target nitong puwersahang pagbayarin ang 11 milyong OFWs sa buong mundo.  Layunin daw nito na may maipon ang mga OFWS para paghahanda kung magretiro na tayo, o makapag-loan sa panahon ng ating kagipitan.

Para sa aming mga OFWs, mariin naming tinututulan ang patakarang gawing pwersahan o sapilitan ang pagpapa-myembro sa SSS at pagtataas ng singil nito batay sa mga sumusunod na mga kadahilanan:

1.  Malaking pampinansyal na pasanin ito para sa mga OFWs

Ayon sa mga balita, mula P990 hanggang P1,760 kada buwan ang babayaran ng mga OFWs. Inaasahang aabot P2,400 kada buwan ang babayaran kapag nagtaas ng premium ang SSS simula sa 2019. May kabigatan ito lalo na sa mga gipit nating mga kababayan at sa mga kagaya naming maliliit ang kinikita.

Para sa mga may kakayanan at mga may kagustuhan na mag-member at magbayad ng buwanang hulog sa SSS, maari silang mag-subscribe sa voluntary membership. Hindi kailangang gawin ang “mandatory” o sapilitan? Paano naman ang mga walang kakayanan na magbayad?

2. Pwersadong bayaran ng mga OFWs maging ang bahaging dapat ay ang employer ang magbabayad.

Kaiba sa Pilipinas, ang buwanang bayad sa SSS sa abroad ay solong babayaran ng mga OFWs. Walang kontribusyon dito ang mga employers. Isa pa, ang mga OFWs sa Hong Kong at maaring sa iba ding mga lugar ay walang kaseguruhan sa trabaho. Marami kundi man lahat ng mga biglaang mapapauwi dahil sa premature termination ng kontrata ay hindi na kakayaning ituloy ang pagbabayad sa SSS. Paano na ang halagang naihulog naming sakaling hindi na naming ito maituloy-tuloy.

3. Mga kwestyonableng sahod, benepisyo at gastusin ng administrasyon ng SSS

Ang pinaka-malaking anomalya sa SSS ay ang paglustay sa pondo nito ng mga opisyales, board members at mga politikong nangangasiwa nito. Habang maganit sila sa pagtataas ng pensyon ng ating mga senior citizens, mabilis naman sa pagtataas ng singil sa mga miyembro. Milyon-milyon ang tinatanggap na mga allowances, bonuses at sahod ng mga opisyal ng SSS. Ang mga miyembro ng SSS ang pumapasan, pero hindi sila ang nakikinabang.

4. Dagdag-pensyon, HINDI dagdag-singil

Ang pagtataas ng buwanang kontribusyon sa SSS ay hindi makatwiran. Ginagawang dahilan ng SSS administrayion ang pagpapahaba ng buhay ng pondo ng SSS para bigyang katwiran ang dagdag-singil ngunit pinagtatakpan nila ang daan-daang milyong mga sweldo at allowances ng mga opisyal at board members ng SSS. Hindi rin nila aktibong kinokolekta at hinahabol ang bilyon-bilyong pisong mga kontribusyon na hindi binabayaran ng mga tiwaling mga kumpanya at korporasyon.

Nakasaad din sa batas na maaring magpasok ng pondo ang gobyerno mula sa taunang badyet nito para punan ang pondo ng SSS. Sa laki ng taunang pondo ng gobyerno, marapat lamang na maglaan ito ng para sa pensyon ng mamamayan. Kung ang ponding napupunta sa korupsyon ay ilalaan sa pondo ng pensyon sa SSS, hindi kakailanganin na magdagdag ng singil sa mga miyembro nito.

5. Kawalan ng konsultasyon sa mga organisasyong tunay na kumakatawan sa mga OFWs

Sa mga isinagawang Committee Hearing at konsultasyon kaugnay ng batas na ito, tanging mga kinatawan lamang ng mga recruitment agencies at mga naimbita. Hindi nila bibnibitbit ang tunay na sentimyento ng mga OFWs sa mahalagang usaping ito.

Kinakailangang magsagawa ng malawakan at bukas na konsultasyon ang pamahalaan, DOLE at ang SSS sa mga kinatawan ng mga OFWs sa Pilipinas at sa mismong mga bansang kinaroroonan naming mga manggagawa na direktang apektado ng batas na ito.

Dahilan sa mga nabanggit na limang kadahilanan, kami’y nananawagan sa SSS, sa DOLE at sa pamahalaan at huwag ituloy ang implementasyon ng mandatory SSS membership at ang dagdag-singil nito.

21 April 2019

Nilagdaan:

  1. Abra Migrant Workers Welfare Association (AMWWA)
  2. Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society (ATIS)
  3. Association of Concerned Filipinos in Hong Kong (ACFIL-HK)
  4. BAYAN Hong Kong & Macau
  5. Cordillera Alliance (CORALL)
  6. Filipino Friends in Hong Kong (FFHK)
  7. Filipino Lesbians Organization (FiLO)
  8. Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU)
  9. Filipino Migrants Association (FMA)
  10. Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association (FILWOM)
  11. Friends of Bethune House (FBH)
  12. GABRIELA Hong Kong
  13. LIKHA Filipino Cultural Organization
  14. MIGRANTE Macau
  15. Pangasinan Organization for Welfare, Empowerment and Rights (POWER)
  16. Pinatud a Saleng ti Umili (PSU)
  17. Promotion of Church People’s Response – Hong Kong (PCPR-HK)
  18. United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
  19. United Pangasinan in Hong Kong (UPHK)
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Duterte and SSS hankering to fast-track IRR for mandatory SSS exaction to amass billions from toiling OFWs — Migrante

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.

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Image by Mark Suva

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:

Hongkong

Japan

Italy

South Korea

 

 

#LaborDay2019: Migrant workers march in fury against the tyrannical US-Duterte regime

On a global scale, the first of May is regarded by workers as a day of mass action and protest against the prevailing order of exploitation and injustice. United with all the militant unions of workers worldwide, Migrante International marks the observance of this hallowed occasion to laud the Filipino working class in its struggle to attain emancipation from the scourge of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Taking part on this day reaffirms our commitment to unionize Filipino workers as well as in organizing their families and other sectors within the frame of the national democratic interests of the Filipino masses. This is also a global day of action to denounce modern-day slavery and the intensifying labor export program of the Duterte regime

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In 2018, OFW remittances reached $33.8 Billion. The economy remains dependent on remittances and loans. Without financing from external sources, the economy will falter even more due to the absence of national industrialization efforts. While the Duterte regime lavishes in the profusion of state-exactions and remittances from OFWs, Filipino migrant workers continue to suffer neglect and exploitation. OFW contributions to the struggling Philippine economy are not getting translated to genuine protection of migrants’ rights and welfare.

Last year, Saudi-OFW and cancer patient Allan Rafael was illegally arrested, robbed and killed by Manila police in a police station in Quiapo, Manila. He was severely tortured by the police to coerce him to admit involvement in illegal drugs based on his frail and emaciated physical appearance. Unsafe working conditions in his former host country and poor medical services in the Philippines contributed to his physical deterioration. He fought for his life but Fascism and injustice under the blood-thirsty Duterte regime eventually led to his tragic death.

This flagrant culture of impunity under the Duterte regime was made apparent when Senior Superintendent Chito Bersaluna got promoted as Bulacan’s chief of police after leading the deadly Caloocan raid that claimed the lives of children from OFW families, Kian delos Santos and Carl Arnaiz. Bersaluna is the same police chief behind the violent dispersal and illegal arrests of striking workers in NutriAsia in July 2018.

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In the parliament of the streets, we march with indignation against the tyrannical Duterte regime and the intensifying oppression of Filipino workers under his watch. Enabled by the semi-colonial and semi-feudal conditions in the country, Duterte’s reign of terror further emboldens the big owners of capital to mercilessly exploit and imperil the lives of Filipino workers. Even a virulent earthquake last month failed to stir them to evacuate BPO and mall workers to safety.

Trade union repression, contractualization, poor working conditions and the absence of a national minimum wage aggravates the problem of forced migration in the Philippines. The terrible plight of workers in the Philippines placed the country among the world’s ten worst countries for workers according to the 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index.

The severity of excruciating labor conditions in the Philippines and the high unemployment rate drives several thousand Filipinos daily to overseas deployment. Even abroad, the Duterte regime’s voracious appetite for forced remittances through state exactions is bleeding OFW pockets dry. Aside from the rising cost of living due to Duterte’s TRAIN Law, migrant workers and their families would now have to contend with higher amounts of mandatory OFW contributions in Philhealth and SSS (Social Security System).

Recently, PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde derogated KMU and even falsely claimed that rallies, strikes and union organizing are the roots of joblessness and low investor confidence in the Philippines. To gain proof that his words are indeed blatant lies, Albayalde only has to look at the countries with the highest levels of labor union membership and militancy to find out that these are the very countries where Filipinos prefer to live and work permanently. These are the same countries that addressed the problems of landlessness and massive unemployment through genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization.

Instead of guaranteeing the rights of workers to organize and assemble freely, PNP chief Albayalde has actually chosen the side of the ruling exploiters who continue to afflict workers with poverty-wages and harsh working conditions.

As agents of trade union persecution and state-terrorism, the inclusion of AFP and PNP in the anti-worker matrix is indeed indisputable. These Fascist institutions do not serve the interests of the Filipino working class but those of the elite and their imperialist masters.

Moreover, the habitual red-tagging and black propaganda being waged by AFP and PNP against trade unions, progressive organizations, MAKABAYAN party-lists and candidates is contradictory to their non-partisanship and apolitical claims. Furthermore, murderous sycophants from AFP and PNP are among the primary culprits in state-sponsored killings through the Duterte regime’s fake war against drugs and the anti-people Oplan Kapayapaan.

The Duterte regime and his armed brutes detest seeing Filipino workers exercise their political rights in any militant form of social action. By the same token, the consistent domination of MAKABAYAN party-list and senatorial candidates in mock polls threatens Duterte’s lust for absolute control in both chambers of Congress.

This 13th of May, the Filipino people will be able to express their desire for real change through the ballot. Outside the Philippines, overseas absentee voting has already started but the utter disenfranchisement of registered Filipino overseas absentee voters is marked by delays in the arrival of mailed ballots and the burdensome cost of paying for their own postal stamps.

Overseas Filipino workers deserve pro-labor legislators who will uphold the rights and welfare of the Filipino workers both in the Philippines and abroad. Ensuring free and honest elections is in the interest of OFWs. Accordingly, Migrante International will continue to monitor and file reports and cases of irregularities and disenfranchisement.

With the heightening of imperialist greed and plunder, the global economic crises generated by neoliberal economic policies bear out the rottenness and failure of global monopoly capitalism. This corrupt economic system denies workers the right to live and work decently in their own countries as seen in the mass deployment of Filipino workers abroad through the government’s labor export program and the influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines.

The debt-ridden and overpriced infrastructure projects are not providing employment to Filipinos whom Panelo insulted as unskilled in construction. The influx of Chinese workers in the Philippines highlights the failure of Duterte’s Build, Build, Build to provide stable jobs to Filipinos. It likewise attests to the failure of China’s capitalist mode of production to secure decent lives for its citizens in their own country.

Members of the ruling elite set themselves to preserve this vile economic and societal order by pitting one group of workers against another. Lest we forget that this strife is not between exploited workers of two or three diverse races. For certain, it is a clash between the elite oppressive class and the oppressed workers of the world.

#KasamaAkoSaMayoUno for we side with the working class, the peasants and that of the other basic spheres of society to denounce imperialist domination and to overthrow US-Duterte’s reign of terror.

Let us then take up the cudgels and bolster our strength by uniting in solidarity for the attainment of social justice and liberation. As the real masters of production, our heroic workers stand as the creators of a new and better world where oppression and exploitation shall be no more. Rising above adversities, the triumph of our struggle for national democracy is at hand.

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Disenfranchisement of Overseas Absentee Voters

Migrante International expresses indignation over the outright disenfranchisement of 1.8 M registered Filipino overseas absentee voters (OAV) who want to fully participate and exercise their democractic right to vote in the upcoming May 13 Philippine elections.

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OFWs line-up during the first day of the overseas absentee voting in Hong Kong

It is of grave concern that the COMELEC and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) did not prepare to ensure that Filipino migrants who have opted for postal voting would receive their ballots in the mail in a timely manner. The option to vote by mail is critical to thousands of overseas absentee voters who lack access to resources and time to travel to their nearest consulates or voting centers because of the distance from their workplace or home.

Negligent in their duty, COMELEC failed to ensure that overseas absentee voters receive all the necessary information and materials to prepare them for the elections even prior to April 13, the first day overseas absentee voters can officially vote.
Additionally, placing the burden on overseas absentee voters themselves to pay the costs of the return postal stamps is an insult to Filipino migrants who have already been subjected to numerous fees exacted by the Philippine government prior to leaving abroad, and whose remittances has served as a lifeline for the Philippine economy.

This is a clear violation of Republic Act 9189, which guarantees that overseas absentee voters will not have to shoulder any costs related to the process of voting. COMELEC’s admission of lack of financial resources to pay for postage stamps due to the delay in the passage of the national budget is unacceptable, further revealing that protecting the constitutional right of all Philippine citizens to vote is not a priority of this administration.
The present barriers placed on overseas Filipino voters is a serious matter and is a testament to the erosion of democracy in the Philippines. As Filipino migrants who are deeply invested in and concerned for the future of the Philippines, we refuse to have our voices and votes be silenced.

Migrante International will continue to monitor, document and file reports of any cases of disenfranchisement and discrepancies in the overseas absentee voting process. ###

Give Loida Quindoy a Chance to Stay! – Migrante Japan

“Loida Quindoy is unjustly punished. The Japan Ministry of Justice has gone overboard when it decided to throw out a Filipina mother and grandmother after living in Japan for over 22 years. This is a grave injustice”, Migrante Japan, an alliance of Filipino organizations caring and fighting for the rights of Filipinos in Japan said in a pre-trial statement on the karehomen case of Loida Quindoy today, April 26.

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Loida Quindoy who is again denied by the Immigration Bureau to appear before the Tokyo District Court to personally make her appeal is detained at the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau since her karehomen was cancelled on October 11, last year. She has been battling against a deportation order since 2012 for “not disclosing the complete facts about her Filipino husband who had a history of overstay and use of an assumed identity” when she applied for his visa to join her in Japan. It was a mistake that Loida Quindoy regretted and has already paid when her husband got deported back to the Philippines in 2011 and when her permanent residence status was revoked in 2012.

“Why revoke her permanent status and deport her too? What premium does her 22 years of hard work in Japan get? Are they throwing them all away because of one mistake?”, Migrante Japan asked.

“The Ministry of Justice has failed to see the whole picture and just focused on one single mistake. It also failed to recognize that Loida Quindoy is a mother and grandmother of two young girls who live with her in Japan. Deporting her back to the Philippines, her country of origin, would have a devastating impact on the entire family”, Migrante Japan said.

Loida Quindoy’s case is not isolated. There are hundreds of other cases like her who are languishing in detention because of Japan’s intolerance and campaign to criminalize migrants. Under the current rules, even a mere traffic violation can be used as reason for deportation. This according to Migrante Japan, “threatens families of mixed racial background.” A child’s right to have parental relationship with both mother and father is enshrined in Japan’s Constitution and Japan being a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is legally bound to uphold and protect these rights. But according to Migrante Japan, these provisions of the law are clearly ignored by the new set of rules and regulations currently being implemented by the Ministry of Justice.

Meanwhile, Migrante Japan castigated the Philippine embassy in Tokyo for not lifting a finger on the case of Loida Quindoy and other jailed Filipinos. The Philippine government should have done something to question the deportation order on Loida Quindoy, according to MIGRANTE Japan. “Instead of appealing her case, the Philippine embassy in Tokyo has sided with the Ministry of Justice by echoing its appeal for Filipino overstays in Japan to go back to the Philippines and avail of its reintegration program”, Migrante Japan lamented.

Today, on the 3rd and final hearing of Loida Quindoy’s case, Filipinos and Japanese supporters who believe that she is unjustly punished held a protest action in front of the Tokyo District Court to appeal for her immediate release and to grant her a “special resident status.” Similar actions were also held by Migrante chapters in Manila, South Korea, Australia and in Hong Kong right in front of the Japanese embassy in the days leading to today’s hearing. They are one with Loida Quindoy and her supporters in calling for the Ministry of Justice to give her a chance to stay and allow her to remain in Japan with her family.

Migrante Japan insisted that Loida Quindoy is a person of good character. She is a community leader and a church leader as well who made enormous contributions to society through her hard work and by religiously paying all her tax dues as well as helping fellow Filipinos embroiled in various welfare and legal issues.

“Loida Quindoy is not a criminal! She is not a bad person. In her 22 years in Japan, she has not been involved, nor convicted of any crime. She deserves a second chance”, MIGRANTE Japan concluded.###

UPDATE ON THE HEARING:

The 3rd and what supposed to be the final hearing on the “karehomen” case of Loida Quindoy was held today, April 26, at the Tokyo District Court. The presiding judge ruled that the medical condition of Loida must be thoroughly examined, and therefore, an unexpected 4th hearing was set on July 5. The presiding judge questioned the panel of lawyers representing the Japan Ministry of Justice for not giving Loida swift medical attention when she badly needed it; that they should have immediately brought her to a private medical institution and have her examined by a professional doctor. The government lawyers argued that “Loida is not the only sick person inside the Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau” to which the presiding judge smiled impishly while shaking his head. The next hearing will have the private doctor invited as an expert witness to present his findings on the medical condition of Loida. Looks like the 3rd round is arguably in favor of Loida.

Migrante blasts SSS, Duterte regime for persisting to be social security ‘spoilers’

Tagging the SSS and the Duterte regime as social security spoilers, OFWs and families led by Migrante International trooped to the SSS headquarters on Friday, April 26, to demand the implementation of a genuine social security program. The group calls on the SSS to immediately conduct a comprehensive consultation with all the stakeholders including the local and overseas workers to be able to chart a social security system that would truly redound to the people’s benefit.

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Various sectors are assailing RA 11199 because of its grievous policy of further putting the responsibility of social security on the people. “Instead of assuming its obligation to protect the welfare of its people through an inclusive and comprehensive social security system, what the government did in the enactment of RA 11199 is to ensure additional exaction through premium hike and compulsory collection on OFWs,” said Arman Hernando, Migrante Philippines Chairperson.

For 2019, the SSS expects an additional collection of P31 Billion on premium hike alone. Should the mandatory collection of SSS premium on OFWs push through, the agency will be adding P4.8B yearly to its funds. What is worse according to Hernando is that RA 11199 gave the government total access to the proceeds of SSS collection by acquiring the right to ‘borrow’ its reserve fund. “Isn’t it shameful for a government to exact money from its people under the premise of social security then take and utilize a significant part of it to answer for its expenditures or lend it to big private businesses?” Hernando asked. Migrante evinced that RA 11199 should be suspended pending a careful review and proscription of its iniquitous provisions.

“Amidst ever-increasing prices of basic commodities and social services, rising unemployment and worsening labor conditions, the people cannot shoulder additional burden such as the premium hike and P2,400 monthly compulsory SSS contribution on OFWs. What we need right now is a social security program that would uplift us from our economic hardships. Instead of additional collection, what the SSS and Duterte should immediately do is to release the promised P1,000 additional monthly pension and guarantee that the expanded maternity leave benefits will be fully enjoyed by its members. Long overdue, Duterte should also immediately heed the workers call for a P750 national minimum wage and the end of contractualization. To guarantee a living wage and job security is to assure workers’ social security,” Hernando asserted.

Migrante further demands that there should be no program that would implement a compulsory collection of premiums, much less, a rule that would bar the OFWs from working abroad should they fail to pay the collectible amount by the SSS. “To enjoy the fruits of our labor, what we are truly aspiring for is a social security system that is subsidized and assumed by the government. “We dare say to SSS and Duterte: Do not make the local and migrant workers your milking cows. Spoilers are those who exploit us further by exacting money to finance a market-driven social security program,” said Hernando.

Migrante culminated the action by bidding on all workers, local and abroad, their families and all people to join the Labor day demonstrations on May 1st and bolster the fight for a greater social protection, better living condition and a just and equal social order for all.###

Migrante Europe calls on Comelec and embassies to adopt personal voting by overseas Filipino workers

The postal voting to being implemented by the COMELEC for overseas Filipino workers in Europe in the Mid-Term Election is strongly protested by Migrante Europe.

According to the communications received by Migrante Europe chapters and members from the Philippine embassies and consulates, they have adopted postal voting. There will be no personal voting for the purposes of the 2019 National Elections for senators and party-list representatives.

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Postal voting for overseas Filipino workers is a procedure whereby ballots are sent by postal mailing to the voters and returned by post, in contrast to voters who are voting in person at a polling center or electronically via an automated election system.

“This new voting policy and procedure by the COMELEC may result in disenfranchisement and nonparticipation of thousands of registered Filipino voters in Europe,” lamented by Fr. Herbert Fadriquela Jr., chairperson of Migrante Europe.

According to Republic Act No. 9189, Sec. 2 – “It is the prime duty of the State to provide a system of honest and orderly overseas absentee voting that upholds the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot. Towards this end, the State ensures equal opportunity to all qualified citizens of the Philippines abroad in the exercise of this fundamental right.”

“Many registered voters don’t have stable addresses and there is no guarantee that they will receive their ballots, or if the returned ballots will be received by the embassies or consulates. We are appealing to the COMELEC and to the Duterte government for Filipinos to be given an option to get their ballots from the embassies and to adopt as well the personal voting of migrant Filipinos in Europe;” said Rhodney Pasion, Europe Electoral Campaign Coordinator.

Meanwhile, Migrante Europe chapter in Northern Italy had a positive dialogue with the Philippine Consulate in Milan last Sunday, 31 March 2019 regarding electoral concerns. The April 5 deadline for the submission of forms for the overseas absentee voter who changed their addresses was prolonged until April 15. For those who request to get their ballots from the embassy/ consulate, it was extended until April 30.

To guarantee the transparency, accessibility, and accountability of the 2019 national elections, the following are the demands of Migrante Europe:

• An option to vote by allowing personal voting to the polling centers;

• An option to receive the ballots by allowing to get it at the respective embassies and consulates;

• Satellite voting centers;

• Immediate notification related to absentee voting including the arrival of ballots.

“We call on the Commission on Elections and the Duterte government to address this urgent issue on ‘voter disenfranchisement’.” If the government is sincere to promote the active participation of the broadest number of Filipino overseas workers in the national elections, personal voting of OFWs should be adopted during the Overseas Absentee Voting to start on April 13-May 13, 2019,” concluded by Fr. Herbert. ###

For reference:

Rhodney Pasion
Europe Electoral Campaign Coordinator
Email: rhodneypaion1@gmail.com

Revd. Fr. Herbert F. Fadriquela Jr.
Chaplain to the Filipino Community
Diocese of Leicester
Church of England
Chaiperson, Migrante Europe

Email: contact@migrante.eu