"DUTERTE'S state exactions never end. Weighed down by the current crisis in Hong Kong, OFWs' woes are aggravated by the looming PhilHealth mandatory extortion."
This was declared Thursday, October 17, by Dolores Balladares Pelaez, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (Unifil-Migrante HK).
News reports state that under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11223, or the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act, direct contributors or the salaried workers, professionals, and those who have at least P10,000 monthly and the capacity to pay PhilHealth premium would see premiums go up from P3,600 annually to P6,000 from 2020 to 2024. The IRR also covers overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who currently pay an annual rate of P2,400.
"Instead of providing health care protection to OFWs who are suffering from severe afflictions due to their slave-like working conditions, insufficient food, and other stressful factors, the Duterte government remains apathetic to our plight by imposing more mandatory monetary responsibilities," Balladares-Pelaez said.
In Section 10 of the IRR, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) was tasked to 'ensure that land-based overseas Filipino workers, whether new hires or returning, pay their PhilHealth premiums prior to issuance of the overseas employment certificate (OEC)," reports stated.
"This is utterly outrageous! The compulsory SSS contribution is already a prerequisite to obtaining the Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC; why should the PhilHealth contribution be an additional step? This is the height of greed," said Balladares-Pelaez.
"Once again, Duterte shows how anti-OFWs he is. He doesn’t care where we get the money to pay for these exorbitant fees; what matters to him is the big collections that his department can get. It is only proper that the Universal Health Care be subsidized by the Department of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s remittances, and shares from sin tax revenues. OFWs have long been victimized by government agencies' money-making schemes and false promises of health care benefits," she added.
"Enough is enough! We shall struggle against Duterte's PhilHealth and other mandatory state exaction and all other forms of abuses and exploitation," she said. (PR)