By Chito Chavez
Various militant groups trooped to the Social Security System (SSS) head office in Quezon City on Wednesday to denounce the impending enforcement of the mandatory SSS contributions for land-based and sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Migrante Philippines Chairman Arman Hernando deplored the move fearing that OFWs will bear the brunt of paying the monthly contributions and not the employers.
He remains puzzled on how can OFWs have a secure future with the SSS if 12 percent of their monthly income “gets robbed by the government that stubbornly refuses to raise pensions.”
Hernando insisted the government should fulfill its pledge to grant the clamored P2,000 addition to the SSS pension instead of imposing higher exactions.
However, Hernando claimed the government “so far refuses to give the remaining P1,000 pension increase despite previously guaranteeing to grant it after 2018.
In October last year, Migrante expressed its strongest opposition to the bill after its bicameral approval in the Philippine legislature.
The migrant group also said that no extensive consultations among OFWs were ever conducted by SSS even up to the time of its signing by President Duterte last month.
In the recently published draft of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Social Security Act of 2018, Rule 14 Section 5:IV stated that a land-based OFW shall pay both the employer and the employee contributions.
This is until such time that the host country enters into a bilateral labor agreement with the Philippines.
“Worst, OFWs will be forced to contribute P2,400 per month in its entirety as long as the host country does not enter into a bilateral agreement that will obligate employers to remit their contributions. This will be on top of the US$144 mandatory insurance that is also being pushed by the government. OFWs are being totally ripped off,” Hernando stated.
The IRR mandates that SSS, along with DOLE and DFA, must ensure its implementation by the host country through striking bilateral labor agreements that will obligate foreign employers to remit their contributions.
Hernando warned last year that requiring employers to contribute on these exactions could incite their antagonism against OFWs.
The militant overseas worker’s group also recalled how SSS sparked outcry in recent years due to the fat bonuses of its executives.
Migrante has launched a petition yesterday to block the mandatory SSS exaction for OFWs.