SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
It does not have to be the end of the road for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose employment days may soon be over.
This developed after the House committee on overseas workers affairs chaired by Rep. Jesulito Manalo (Party-list, ANGKLA) created a technical working group (TWG) to consolidate three measures, which seek to provide retirement benefits and welfare assistance to OFWs.
These measures include House Bill 3746 authored by Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (Party-list, SAGIP) , seeking to create an Overseas Filipino Workers Social Security and Retirement System; HB 547 by Rep. Gary Alejano (Party-list, MAGDALO), seeking to create the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund; and HB 7228 by Rep. Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), seeking to provide for the protection of OFW dependents by setting up for them a special pension fund in the event of income loss due to death or disability.
HB 3746 calls for the creation of an Overseas Filipino Workers Retirement Fund System and an OFW Retirement Fund, which shall be used to provide retirement benefits and similar gratuities to OFWs and their beneficiaries.
The measure requires all OFWs duly registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), to remit five percent of their gross monthly income for at least 10 years.
In addition to the monthly contribution of the OFWs to the Fund, the Fund shall be financed from the following sources: 10 percent from fees charged by Philippine international airports to outgoing OFWs; 10 percent from fees charged by medical testing centers which shall provide medical tests to overseas job-applicants; 10 percent from fees charged by OFW training centers; and P50 million annually for five years to be appropriated and be taken from the Contingency Fund of the Office of the President to complement the Overseas Filipino Workers Fund’s Reserve.
Marcoleta noted that at present, the Social Security System (SSS) program for OFWs offers limited pension benefits which mature only at the age of 60. However, he pointed out that OFWs such as domestic helpers and construction workers usually find reemployment difficult at the age of 45.
“It is unthinkable for them to wait until the age of 60 to receive their pension benefits under the SSS program,” he said.
Similarly, HB 5470 proposes the creation of the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund. It requires all OFWs duly registered with the POEA and the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CPO) to remit five percent of their gross monthly income to the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund for five years.
According to Alejano the fund would provide OFWs and their families a guaranteed capital to start anew in the event that they meet an unforeseen misfortune in the course of their work.
On the other hand, HB 7228 seeks to provide for the protection of OFW dependents by setting up for them a special pension fund in the event of income loss due to death or disability.
Castelo explained that in the event the OFWs themselves lose the ability to earn a living, their family and those who depend on them for subsistence become miserable.
“There has to be a state intervention whereby they are protected economically if this scenario occurs,” Castelo said. / MVI Palomar