Thursday, April 17, 2008

Additional Burden

Press Release:
April 17, 2008

Proposed compulsory OFW-membership to Pag-IBIG
It’s nothing but an additional scheme burdening OFWs and families;
OFWs and families vow to oppose it– Migrante ME

“Stop the idea of OFWs’ inclusion from mandatory coverage in the Pag-IBIG Fund! OFWs should not be likened to a “deep well” of funds that every time there is bankruptcy or perceived shortage of funds in the government or any government-controll ed institutions, the Arroyo administration, like previous administrations, through its allies in the Congress could easily fetch funds by simply passing on the burden of fund shortage, thus pooling funds from OFWs in the pretext of public service,’” thus said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante ME regional coordinator.

Migrante’s Monterona is reacting on the bills filed in the Lower House by 3 pro-administration Congressmen namely Eduardo Zialcita , Emil Ong and Rodolfo Valencia , where the consolidation of the 3 bills is being studied.

Specifically , House Bill No. 1097 authored by Cong. Emil Ong suggested the mandatory coverage of OFWs , among others.

Monterona said the mandatory coverage of OFWs is no more needed as there is already an existing program called the Pag-IBIG Overseas Program (POP) , which is a voluntary savings program that aims to provide Filipino overseas contract workers , immigrants and naturalized citizens the opportunity to save for their future and the chance to avail of a housing loan of as much as P 2,000,000.00

“Voluntary, not compulsory, membership to Pag-IBIG would give leeway to OFW families to choose between getting an aching housing loan or simply build-their- own home at low cost,” Monterona explained.

Monterona recounts that if one could visit in most provinces in the Philippines, one will often notice and see a bungalow-type house under construction and just try to ask from its neighbor who owns the under-construction house, the neighbor will reply “ah the owner of that house is an OFW’’.

On his part, Nhel Morona, Migrante-UAE chapter Secretary-General said that OFWs have their own OWWA fund, where individual OFWs is required to pay US$25.0 on a yearly basis to maintain its membership to OWWA, presumably so that an OFW can avail OWWA welfare programs and benefits.

“Unfortunately , the OWWA fund , amounting now to an estimated Php.10-B held in trust in the government through OWWA diminished its welfare programs and benefits to OFWs and families when OWWA passed the anti-OFW OWWA Omnibus Policies in 2002 ,” Morona averred.

Morona further said that the 10-B OWWA fund could in fact be used for housing loan similar to what Pag-IBIG fund is intended for.

“To spare the OWWA fund from the Arroyo administration or political allies in the government of its possible misuse , the OWWA fund should be converted to a more meaningful and easy-to-avail housing loan for millions OFWs who are mostly do not have home of their own including me ,” Morona said.

Morona said that the government, if it has a political will, not merely politicking, to advance the welfare of its people could in fact give preferential treatment to OFWs as well as to urban poor by prioritizing them to avail its low-cost housing programs.

Monterona and Morona both said that most of the members of the Congress , like the Arroyo administration that considers OFWs an “exhaust valve’’ , have wrongly conceived that OFWs are earning much , thus it is but acceptable to them imposing additional government exactions.

“Majority of the OFWs are working as domestic helpers and construction workers or at the service sector who are only receiving a meager salary ranging from US$250 to US400 monthly; that is barely Php. 10,250 to Php. 16,400, not even enough to survive their family in time of continuing price increases of basic commodities and rice ,” Monterona added.

“We would like to remind the proponent of the bill requiring compulsory membership of OFWs to Pag-IBIG and other pro-Arroyo members of the House Representatives to stop thinking like their boss in Malacanang that OFWs is a source of “easy money” for the government for pooling funds just to ensure the coming of funds for Pag-IBIG ,” said Monterona.

“Certainly , we , OFWs and families will not give our avowed ‘’pag-ibig” (love) to our respective Congressman who will support this proposed consolidated bill requiring OFW membership to Pag-IBIG mandatory as it is only an additional burden to us who are in dire need and much poorer than before which forced us no other option but to work abroad despite being aware of the costs of our migration ,” Monterona ended. # # #

For reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Regional Coordinator
Migrante Middle East
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

Nhel Morona
Sec.General - Migrante UAE

1 comment:

Remitter said...

I think think this scheme is again not going to go down well with the OFWs. The Migrante is also not going to be silent on this and the government will again face some tough questions. The fund indeed has chances of being misused and the government should take immediate actions to ensure that it benefits those OFWs who do not have their own houses. On I have come across quite a few OFWs who feel cheated when the remittances sent by them are not utilised for their welfare.