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Mandatory PhilHealth for OFWs opposed

Mandatory PhilHealth for OFWs opposed
Genivi Verdejo July 27, 2022

MIGRANT and overseas Filipino workers (OFW) leaders sought the scrapping of the mandatory PhilHealth for OFWs, saying it is an additional burden amid the rising cost of basic goods and services.

"We have long clamored since 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," Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, secretary general of Migrante International and chairman of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said.

Over 5,000 land-based and sea-based migrants, groups and organizations from Asia, the Middle East and the Philippines signed the petition which was submitted to Secretary Susan Ople of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) last week. They sought the removal of the mandatory Philhealth contribution and premium increase for overseas Filipinos and migrant workers.

"With the 4 percent Philhealth premium increase, OFWs will pay an estimate of P9,600 up to P38,400 each year. That should be going toward supporting our families' needs instead," Pelaez said.

DMW Assistant Secretary Jerome Pampolina received the petition during the recent dialogue organized by seafarer leaders and advocates. 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 the President.

Migrant workers have challenged the Marcos administration to act and end the unjust policy of mandatory Philhealth contribution and all mandatory government exactions imposed on migrant workers.

The issue of charging mandatory fees for OFWs is a major concern, as they continue to be impacted by inflation, loss of livelihood and jobs, reduction of wages, and increasing debt.

Migrant workers were outraged at the Philippine government's callousness when it implemented policies that seek to profit from them through mandatory government fees. Two years ago, the organized resistance and collective actions of migrant workers all over the world resulted in the temporary suspension of the collection of mandatory premiums by PhilHealth.

"Since the time of his father, [Ferdinand E.] 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," Pelaez said.