Journalist Jay Sonza couldn’t hide his disappointment after hearing the news that Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were mandated to contribute 3% of their monthly salary to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Under PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014, OFWs with income of 10,000 to 20,000 will be required to pay 3 percent of their monthly salary.
Sonza addressed President Rodrigo Duterte, asking why OFWs were mandated to give the 3% of their monthly salaries while their relatives in the Philippines were disqualified from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the government.
“Sa SAP disqualified ang pamilyang may abroad, pero kaltas OFW PhilHealth mandatory increase. Ano ba naman iyan Mr. President?” Sonza asked.
“Bakit ginagawang parang gatasan ng gobyerno (philhealth) ang MIGRANTENG Pilipino (OFW)?” he added.
It was reported that some people were disqualified from receiving financial aid from the government because they have a close relative working abroad.
However, according to the Department of Labor and Employment, OFWs affected by the COVID-19 would receive 10,000 pesos from the government under DOLE-AKAP assistance.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista also said that relatives of stranded OFWs may also be included in the list of SAP beneficiaries.
“Ang mga pamilya naman ng mga overseas Filipinos in distress o silang naibalik sa bansa o walang kita o hindi napadalhan ng pera mula sa overseas Filipinos dahil sa COVID 19 o silang pinagbawalan bumyahe sa labas ng bansa o stranded mula noon dahil sa paglaganap ng COVID-19 na pumigil sa kakayanan nila na magtrabaho sa labas ng bansa mula Enero 2020 hanggang sa pag-alis ng community quarantine ay maari rin maipasama sa target beneficiaries,” Bautista said.
The veteran journalist also blamed Senator Risa Hontiveros for what’s happening.
“Sa SSS contribution, may pension ka. sa Pagibig Fund, may housing na, may savings pa. 9 May Pakinabang. May Balik. Sa PhilHealth deduction, pagtapos ng taon, wala na. Pagsimula ng taon, deduction na naman, pagtapos na ang taon, back to zero na naman. Walang balik. Walang pakinabang. SI SENADOR RISA HONTIVEROS LANG ANG NAKINABANG !!!!” he said.
According to an online petition against the mandatory premium payment, anyone who didn’t pay the mandatory payment might be forced to pay all the missed contributions with interest and penalty.
“I believe that this is already too much of them to ask for an interest rate and a penalty which is very unfair and inhumane for those who travel away from their families to work. It is very unfortunate that they call OFWs modern heroes and yet they penalize us with such directives,” the petition reads.
OFWs also slammed Philhealth for adding burden to them.
“Shame to PhilHealth. It a heavy burden to all OFWs. How you’ll trust a corrupt agency that cannot even provide medical needs to OFWs working overseas. STOP using overseas workers as a milking cow,” one of the people who signed the online petition said.
Even Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. opposed the increase of premium contribution.
“After the abolition of the income tax on OFWs, they’ve figured another way to tax you for your great privilege of being born Filipino, poor and jobless at home. Let’s all sing for nothing,” Locsin wrote.
President Duterte is not yet giving a comment on the said issue.