Receiving complaints from OFWs that the government through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is already charging an additional amount of Php.600 to all out-bound OFWs to get their Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) on top of other fees such as OWWA membership fee and Philhealth contribution, an alliance of Filipino migrants rights group today hits the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) for implementing a mandatory PAG-IBIG membership covering all OFWs.
“While we recognize the sound intent of the housing program of the government by providing housing loan facility for OFWs who mostly have no house of their own, we question the implementation of the new Memorandum Circular No. 06, Series of 2010, issued by the POEA on 7 July 2010, requiring OFWs mandatory membership to PAG-IBIG,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona said The Home Development Mutual Fund, popularly known as PAG-IBIG, has already an existing housing loan facility for OFWs implemented for quite sometime.
“Before it is only optional, not mandatory, thus giving OFWs and their dependents leeway to choose which is better, appropriate, and practical considering the family’s priority, to get a housing loan from PAG-IBIG or just gradually built their own house from their earnings,” Monterona added.
Monterona said making OFWs membership to PAG-IBIG compulsory is like “hold-up” (i.e. robbing) because it is tied up to getting an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), required for all out-bound OFWs and would-be OFWs.
“So an OFW would be paying, in order to get an OEC, P1,164 for OWWA membership, P900 for Philhealth, and the newly imposed P600 for PAG-IBIG, plus the P100 processing fee for a total of P2,764; this is on top of other fees and charges imposed by the government and the placement fee collected by recruitment agency,” Monterona added.
Monterona also deplores the POEA that is already charging OFWs P600 for PAG-IBIG coverage despite that it’s issued MC #6 clearly stated that the implementation of mandatory PAG-IBIG coverage shall start on 1 August 2010.
“Fellow OFWs have told us that upon getting an OEC at POEA main building, they were asked to pay P600 for PAG-IBIG membership -it was on the first week of July” Monterona added.
Monterona said the worst is yet to come in terms of imposing additional fees and charges as the Aquino government would need more funds, thus it would not hesitate to impose additional fees and charges to its citizens to augment the needed funds beefing up the government’s meager budget that was depleted by the Arroyo administration.
“Like the Arroyo administration, the Aquino government will likely be “mukhang pera” by imposing more burdens to its own people in the form of government fees and charges and more taxes to come,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said OFWs are always the government’s easy targets, imposing numerous unnecessary fees and charges and yet there is no or only meager program and services to OFWs and their dependents provided by the government.
“After hearing P-Noy first SONA, we are asking “is he only dreaming or he will be true to his words? The President did not even bother to say again his marching orders and directives to all concerned government agencies to attend OFWs concerns and issues. This is a bad indication that he too would be anti-OFWs?” Monterona ended.