Monday, February 9, 2009

Migrante to SSS-members: "Do not Remit, Funds in a wrong hand"

Press Release
8 February 2009

Migrant group urges SSS-overseas members not to remit, says funds in a wrong hand

Migrante Middle East, the largest alliance of overseas Filipino workers organizations in the Middle East today urges all overseas members of the Social Security System (SSS) not to anymore remit as their money is entrusted to a wrong person whose credibility has been questioned.

"We are urging all SSS-overseas members not to remit their contributions to SSS as a sign of our collective protests against the decision of SSS chief Romulo Neri supporting the decision of his Boss in Malacanang chipping in P12.5 billion SSS funds for Mrs. Arroyo's economic resiliency plan," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Last year, Migrante chapters around the world expressed its strong opposition on the appointment of Mr. Romulo Neri as chief of the SSS.

Migrante-ME said SSS-overseas members have their apprehension to invest in SSS on its voluntary membership program as they cast doubts if their contributions are secured and safe unto the hands of SSS chief Mr. Romulo Neri.

Monterona said that Mr. Neri's public service record has already been tainted and doubted; this made him unqualified into the eyes of SSS OFW-members and other OFWs who are planning to invest in SSS.

The Migrante leader noted the involvement of Mr. Neri into the ZTE broadband controversial anomalous deal which until now he has failed to clear his name and reputation and kept on shielding himself by invoking the executive privilege of non-appearance to Congressional hearings.

Monterona said the Arroyo administration seems to have a lot of fun in using our people's hard earned money entrusted only to the government to be used for its social and economic program.

"We could not find any reason at all why the Arroyo administration should use Juan de la Cruz' hard earned money put in government financial institution such as SSS, GSIS, and or even OWWA where in fact it has already huge allocation in the national budget," Monterona averred.

The OFW leader said the Office of the President for instance has billions of its social funds allocated from the recently passed national budget.

"When, what and for whom the social funds, from tax payers money, of the President to be spent? The government has all the funds and resources to pool all together if it really serious in providing economic resiliency program having the poor people first on its agenda," Monterona opined.

On Friday, Migrante-Middle East had launched an on-line signature campaign (www.ipetitions. com/petition/ calltoprotectOFW sfunds) to protect and secure the P1-B funds for the administration's Expatriate Livelihood program taken from the OWWA funds, a compulsory collection of US$25 every departing OFWs.

Migrante-ME said there are now more than a million OFW-members to the SSS from barely 456,965 on December 2004.

"Based on our conservative estimates, OFW-members to the SSS would now reached from 25% to 35% of the total numbers of OFWs in the countries where there are established SSS offices," Monterona added.

Migrante's Monterona noted that majority of OFW membership came in from Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Brunei and Kuwait.

Monterona said collections from OFW-members have grown immensely from only P95 million (US$2 million) in 1999 to P765 million (US$14million) in 2004. "This represents an eight-fold increase" he added.

Migrante-ME citing data from SSS, the dollar component of OFW collections during 2004 reached to US$9 million, which is US$1.2 million or 16 percent higher than in 2003.

Monterona said that the bulk of OFW payments reached at 65% of the total P500 million (US$9 million) were channeled through SSS-accredited collecting agents abroad, and the he rest were local collections sent by OFW-members via mail, paid by family members or relatives in the Philippines or deducted from their bank account under the Auto Debit Arrangement.

"As SSS-member myself like other OFW-members, our foremost concern is the security of the contributions we have made," Monterona added.

"With Neri in SSS in cahoots with his Boss in Malacanang, we can deduced that our SSS contributions are on a wrong hand, thus it is on our personal timely intervention not to remit anymore to SSS as it is the only way we could protect our own money," Monterona ended. # # #

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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