By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Federation of Free Workers has urged PhilHealth to design a package of benefits tailor-fit to the needs of overseas Filipino workers.
FFW president Sonny Matula said this is necessary to put flesh to Section 9 of the Universal Health Care Act, which says that “PhilHealth shall provide additional Program benefits for direct contributors, where applicable.”
To note, the scheduled increase of PhilHealth premium rates for OFWs, from last year’s 2.75 percent of their monthly income to 3 percent for 2020, drew strong opposition from various groups.
President Duterte has since ordered PhilHealth to make voluntary the payment of premiums by OFWs.
FFW Vice President Amalia Campos of the Central Philippine University Rank and File Union-FFW said, however, that the President’s order is but a temporary reprieve for OFWs.
“This is a temporary reprieve from restlessness and a fresh air for OFWs and their families in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But I think there is really a need to amend the law as migrant workers are categorized as direct contributors under Section 4(f) and required to pay based on a certain percentage of their income under Sec 10 of the law (Republic Act 11223),” she explained.
“The president can do away with the payment of health premium as a requirement for the issuance of overseas employment certificate under Sec 10.2 (c) of the IRR because that is not found in the law but only inserted and adopted by DOH and Philhealth in the implementing rules,” added Campos.
The OEC or exit clearance is a document certifying the regularity of recruitment of an OFW, a proof of his/her registration with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and is a requirement for their exit in the Philippines.