This general view shows high-rise buildings (behind) next to low-income stilt houses (foreground) erected near a river at the mouth of Manila Bay on Wednesday. France Media Agency
Mariecar Jara Puyod, Senior Reporter
There is no connection between the issuance of the Overseas Work Certificate (OEC) for Filipinos vacationing in the Philippines and their non-payment of their Universal Health Coverage, otherwise known as Philhealth – at least for the moment.
Labor attaché in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, John Rio Bautista, said on Tuesday: “We have not received any instructions. Also, there is no Philhealth agent on site.
Bautista’s statement was a repeat of what he told Gulf Today a fortnight ago when he inquired about talks within the Filipino community in the UAE and on social media sites that OECs would be barred from vacationing with OFWs, if they failed to pay the mandatory membership fee to Philhealth. .
The talks and concerns are part of the results of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp’s earlier announcement. (PHIC), established in 1995, regarding the collection of mandatory dues from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from June.
The collection of mandatory OFW dues, as stipulated in the Universal Health Act of 2019, was suspended by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte in 2020, after thousands of people around the world expressed concern about the socio-economic debacle. economy caused by the novel coronavirus. (COVID-19), had demanded, among other things, the investigation of anomalies alleged to have been committed in recent years, by the management and staff of PHIC, responsible for implementing universal health coverage in a responsible and equitable manner. for all Filipinos.
Compulsory membership retroactively obliges all OFWs to pay a monthly fee, starting with 2.75% of OFW income in 2019, increasing to 4% in 2022 and totaling up to Php38,400.00 (Dhs2,664.61) per year for those earning 80,000.00 Php (5,551.10 Dhs) per month and more.
Filipinos from Dubai and the Northern Emirates have been asked for their views on the latest PHIC decision which has been repeatedly lambasted, for alleged new irregularities in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared their opinion as Albay Provincial Representative Joey Salceda two weeks ago called on the incoming Marcos administration to thoroughly review and revise the 2019 Universal Health Act.
Dr. Jonquilles Guevarra, general practitioner at Prime Medical Center: “The OFW diet must be tailor-made. They must take into account the financial capacity of each OFW. There should be specific provisions. If the government decides to charge us this large amount (of Dhs 2,664.43 per year), we should at least get something covered, like a return on investment if it is not claimed for 10 to 15 years ; we get a certain amount back if we go back to the Philippines to cover our expensive chronic disease medications.
Rights Corridor chief executive Froilan Malit Jr. called the demand an “indirect tax,” a coercion on OFWs who have yet to “recover financially” from COVID-19: “President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. needs to listen to the OFW voices that overwhelmingly supported his election. The Philippine government should explore other alternatives and not rely totally on OFWs to fund our national healthcare system, as these OFWs have contributed enough to the development of the nation during times of crisis and non-crisis.
Cristina Espiritu Almakawi, housewife: “If it is not used for 10 years, can we claim it as a lump sum?”
Melliza Hofilena, Marketing Manager of Gulf Scientific Corporation: “The government should ensure that all Filipinos benefit and therefore need various personalized options.”
Financial advisor Vicki Formoso: “Philhealth’s intentions are good. OFWs with families back home would benefit. Monthly and annual dues are the killer.
Olive Ortega, Media Bridge PR Manager: “I just want to make sure that all contributions are placed in the right place and will benefit everyone. There should be a special plan for OFWs.
Supervisor John Ilaga: “Just make sure OFW contributions are minimal.”