MANILA, Philippines - A migrant group has blasted the proposed compulsory welfare insurance plan for overseas Filipino workers (OFW), saying it would only be an additional burden for them.
Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson A.M. Ociones issued the statement after Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed House Bill 5621 that would create a welfare insurance program in addition to the benefits OFWs get from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
“While we welcome all efforts by our legislators to address the problems of migrants-in-distress. We believe this scheme would only aggravate the collection of all sorts of fees and fund-raising schemes from migrant workers," said Ociones.
Under the bill, the proposed insurance program shall cover the following:
* Accidental Death Benefit of up to US$15,000 or more than P700,000;
* Survivor's Benefit in case of natural death, of up to US$10,000 or more than P470,000;
* Permanent Total Disablement of up to US$7,500 more than P350,000;
* Repatriation of Bodily Remains, including burial, of up to US$15,000 or more than P700,000;
* Repatriation due to Emergency Evacuation and legitimate causes of up to US$1,000 or more than P47,000;
* Subsistence Allowance of US$100 per month for six months totaling US$600 or more than P28,000; and
* Legitimate Monetary Claims for Unpaid/Rightful and Just Wages of up to US$4,500 or more than P200,000.
Also, the bill requires recruitment agencies to pay a premium of US$3 or about P140 per month to OWWA for the insurance coverage.
However, Migrante Saudi Arabia said that this fee would probably only be passed on to the would-be migrant workers.
“Thus we see only as an additional burden the $3 premium on top of the regular and already compulsory $25 OWWA fee and P900 PhilHealth fee," said Ociones.
Moreover, instead of an independent insurance plan, Ociones proposed that the 2004 OWWA Omnibus Policy be scrapped and the medical insurance coverage from PhilHealth be returned to OWWA.
Once returned to OWWA, he said the medical insurance coverage should be expanded by lowering the age of beneficiaries and widening its scope to include other family members.
Ociones also said that the mandate of OWWA should be expanded into that of a social security agency, effectively providing retirement plans and more benefits like scholarships and livelihood assistance for OFWs.
“Otherwise, everything would all boil down again to milking the migrants while freeing the government of its responsibility towards migrants-in-distress," he said. - Kimberly Jane T. Tan, GMANews.TV