Sunday, December 28, 2008

Please! Not another exaction scheme.

28 December 2008
News Release

Compulsary welfare insurance plan, another exaction scheme - Migrante KSA

Please! Not another exaction scheme.

Thus appealed Migrante Saudi Arabia Chairperson A.M. Ociones in response to Mindanao Representative Rufus Rodriguez' proposed compulsary welfare insurance plan for overseas Filipinos.

"While we welcome all efforts by our legislators to address the problems of migrants-in-distress, we believe this scheme would only aggravate the collection of all sorts of fees and fund-raising schemes from migrant workers," laments Ociones.

The bill, which promises a well-covered insurance plan also states that the premium would be paid by the recruitment agencies, a fee that Migrante Saudi Arabia expects would only be passed on to the would-be migrant worker.

"Thus we see only as an additional burden the $3 premium on top of the regular and already compulsary $ 25 Overseas Workers Welfare Adinistration (OWWA) fee and PhP 900 PhilHealth fee," Ociones asserted.

"Besides, where have all our OWWA funds gone?" Ociones asked, asserting further that all efforts should be exerted to maintain and protect the OWWA Funds coupled with a program to widen the benefits.

Instead of an independent insurance plan, Ociones proposed the following :

  1. Scrapping the OWWA Omnibus Policy implemented in 2004 which essentially
    cut-off the assistance benefits of OFWs and migrants-in- distress at the same
    time expanding its mandate to include the benefit package proposed under HB

  2. Returning the medical insurance coverage from PhilHealth to

  3. Once returned to OWWA, the medical insurance coverage should
    be expanded by lowering the age of beneficiaries and spreading its scope to
    include other family members (which is especially true to OFWs who are single
    and/or, single parents);

  4. Expanding the existing scholarship, entrepreneurship assistance and livelihood programs of OWWA;

  5. Expanding the mandate of OWWA to function as social security, complete with a retirement plan and wider package of benefits.

"Otherwise, everything would all boil down again to milking the migrants while freeing the government of its responsibility towards migrants-in-distress," the Migrante Saudi Chairperson averred.

Ociones believes "an independent insurance plan to be started from scratch aside from being more costly; would only exacerbate the chronic hands-off policy of the government" towards migrants-in-distress.

The Rodriguez Proposal was announced at the website of the House of Representatives (click here for the announcement) during Christmas. However, a complete copy of the bill is still not available online for a thorough study.

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Reference: A.M. Ociones
Chairperson, Migrante KSA
(Migrante International - Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter)
Tel. No.: +966-56-679-3202

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