July 22, 2022
On Thursday morning, Migrant and OFW leaders handed a petition to the office of the Secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers, Ms. Susan Ople, calling for the removal of the mandatory Philhealth contribution and premium increase for overseas Filipinos and migrant workers.
The petition, signed by over 5,000 land-based and sea-based migrants, groups and organizations from Asia, Middle East and the Philippines was received by Department of Migrant Workers Assistant Secretary Jerome Pampolina during a dialogue organized by seafarer leaders and advocates to address the concerns of sea-based migrant workers. The petition will also be submitted to the House Committee on Migrant Workers Affairs, the House Committee on Health, the Senate Committee on Labor and the Office of President Marcos Jr.
At a time when Filipino migrant workers and their families continue to be impacted by the rising cost of basic goods and services, loss of livelihood and jobs, reduction of wages and increasing debt, migrant workers are outraged at the Philippine government’s callousness when it is aggressively implementing policies that seek to profit from them through mandatory government fees.
“We have long clamored since the time of the Duterte administration against forcing our Filipino migrant workers to contribute to Philhealth and other fees such as SSS and Pag-Ibig that unjustly burdens them financially and do not in the end benefit them. With the 4% Philhealth premium increase, OFWs will pay an estimate of P9,600 up to P38,400 each year. That should be going towards supporting our families’ needs instead.” Ms. Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, Secretary General of Migrante International and Chairperson of United Filipinos in Hong Kong.
Two years ago, the organized resistance and collective actions of migrant workers all over the world have resulted in the temporary suspension of collection of mandatory premiums by PhilHealth. Unrelenting in their fight, migrant workers now challenge the Marcos Jr. Administration to act and end the unjust policy of mandatory Philhealth contribution and all mandatory government exactions imposed to our migrant workers.
The issue of charging mandatory fees for OFWs will be a major concern that will be raised by migrant groups across the globe during a global online rally tonight to amplify the demands of migrant workers and overseas Filipinos to the new administration days before Marcos Jr.’s delivers his first state of the nation address.
“Since the time of his father, dictator Marcos Sr. and succeeding regimes, OFWs have been exploited through various money-making schemes. This must end now! Health care is a human right and not a commodity to be profited from. If the Marcos Jr. administration truly cares for the health and well-being of our modern-day heroes, it is their primary responsibility to provide for and ensure access to basic and comprehensive health services needed by our migrant workers wherever they are.” Ms. Balladares-Pelaez declared. ###