PHILIPPINE Overseas Employment Agency Regional Director Delfina Camarillo said the mandatory Pag-ibig contributions collected from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be helpful as it acts as their personal investment.

Camarillo said Memorandum Circular 06, or the OFW mandatory membership fee of P100 per month upon deployment, will act as a trust fund coursed through Pag-ibig.

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This will be paid in installment by OFWs for six months as a pre-requisite for their Overseas Employment Certificate.

After paying for six months, the OFW through their families or through Philippine Overseas labor officers should continue paying the monthly Pag-ibig contribution until two years to avail of benefits.

Among the benefits the migrant workers may avail from Pag-ibig include housing loan program and other types of loan.

Moreover, Camarillo said this will be beneficial for most OFWs who aside from keeping them in banks easily spend their hard-earned cash abroad in buying things from the family and other extravagant expenses.

Camarillo said many OFWs tend to lose most of their savings abroad and end-up cash-strapped once they can no longer go back and seek for jobs in foreign countries.

With this money being placed for safe-keeping in Pag-ibig and the member continues paying their monthly dues; Camarillo said they will get the same money they invested once it reaches maturity in 15 years plus dividends.

“It’s about time for them to have forced savings as many have been victims of scams in the past years making them even poorer after more than a decade of working abroad,” she said.

Moreover, there is no stopping this mandatory implementation as Republic Act 9679, or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009, placed informal sectors such as OFWs under mandatory coverage of the Pag-Ibig fund.

However, Migrante International through its chairperson Gary Martinez issued a press statement saying the mandatory collection is another form of legalized “kotong”.

He said an OFW must pay P1,164 for Overseas Workers Welfare Administration membership another P900 for Philhealth, the newly imposed P600 for Pag-ibig not to mention other fees and charges imposed by government and the placement fee collected by recruitment agencies.

“All these collections are already burdening the OFW who only want to go abroad and help their families get out of poverty, “he said.

Martinez also said OFWs are being forced to pay when they are not even ensured of the housing benefits.

He cited section 11 of the Home Development Mutual Fund Law stating that only members who have the ability to pay will be granted housing loans.

“How will the Fund’s Board of Trustees determine if OFWs have the ability to pay? Hindi naman pala lahat ng nagbabayad ay makakakamit ng pabahay. Paano kung isa kang OFW na mababa lang ang sahod, o di kaya’y contractual lang at hindi aabot ang paghuhulog sa required maturity period for loans? Nagbabayad ka lang pala para sa wala. Kotong lang talaga ito,” Martinez said.

Meanwhile, Camarillo said OFWs should not complain and instead see this as government’s ways of helping them save up for their family’s future.

“It’s better to be prepared with a trust fund waiting to be released for you after 15 years, much more that OFWs will also get loans from Pag-ibig rather find other illegal means of getting loans,” she said.

Around 100 OFWs are being deployed for jobs to foreign countries every month, she said. (JM Agreda)