Suspension not enough, scrap mandatory Philhealth for OFWs – group

Members of Migrante-Hong Kong call for the scrapping of mandatory Philhealth contribution for OFWs during its Laboy Day protest. (Photo by Aaron Ceradoy)

“OFWs deserve to get steady and efficient relief at this time of crisis. The Duterte regime better stop treating Filipino migrants as milking cows to subsidize big private profit in a country dominated by profit-oriented healthcare facilities.”

By EMILY VITAL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — A global organization of overseas Filipino workers, Migrante International, welcomed as initial victory the suspension of PhilHealth premium hike for OFWs but insisted that the mandatory collection must be scrapped altogether.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday has ordered PhilHealth to suspend the collection of higher premiums from OFWs.

In a statement, Migrante International attributed “the initial gain” to the “strong opposition raised by Filipino migrant communities far and wide.” Over 400,000 OFWs have signed an online petition calling for the removal of the mandatory PhilHealth premim hike and 180 Filipino migrant organizations issued a joint statement highlighting the same demand.

“One thing is clear though from Spokesperson Harry Roque’s announcement – suspension will not suffice for long. The Duterte regime is merely dousing cold water to the Philhealth issue in its attempt to sedate the loud outrage of Filipino migrants against this unjust and extortionate law. OFWs are not asking for a mere suspension. They want it completely scrapped,” Migrante International said.

The group called on President Rodrigo Duterte to order for a complete repeal of the mandatory Philhealth exaction from the Universal Healthcare Law (UHC). Signed in February 2019, Republic Act No. 11223 or the Universal Health Care Law stipulates the tiered premium hike for OFWs.

PhilHealth Circular 2020-0014 issued last month implements the UHC aw by requiring all OFWs to submit their proof of income, from which the amount of their premium payments will be computed.

OFWs are also required to remit three percent of their annual salaries to PhilHealth. By 2021, the contribution will be raised to 3.5 percent and will be raised annually until the amount hits five percent by 2024.

“Duterte can’t just simply wash his hands clean from responsibility when he even certified UHC as urgent back in 2018…Until we see efforts to amend the Universal Healthcare Law, Duterte’s recommendation to make the payment for OFWs voluntary, still is yet to be seen,” the group said.

Migrante International also noted that Duterte’s recommendation also leaves out overseas Filipinos who are dual citizens when both overseas Filipinos and migrant workers will be severely affected by the mandatory premium increase.

“OFWs deserve to get steady and efficient relief at this time of crisis. The Duterte regime better stop treating Filipino migrants as milking cows to subsidize big private profit in a country dominated by profit-oriented healthcare facilities,” Migrante International said.

The group also said that Senator Bong Go’s call for PhilHealth to consider delaying the collection of higher premiums is also not enough. “Even without the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, the premium hike will still be rejected by Filipino migrants,” the group said.

Migrante International said OFWs are refuting Go’s claim that the benefits under Duterte’s mandatory Philhealth exaction outweigh premium payments since there are no Philhealth accredited hospitals abroad. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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