Overseas Filipinos opposed the new resolution making membership to the government’s housing fund mandatory, calling the measure “extortion”.
Migrante International (MI) said overseas Filipino workers (OFW) have always been the target of government money-making schemes and the new order by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) is another.
In a joint resolution this month, the two government agencies said all OFWs must be Pag-IBIG members in order to secure overseas employment certificates (OEC), a prerequisite to applying for jobs abroad.
The government said the new measure is meant to ensure that OFWs will receive uninterrupted benefits from Pag-IBIG, such as loan packages and other programs.
The order is an addition to the earlier requisite for OFWs to secure exit clearance from the POEA as well as POEA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration memberships, travel insurance, Social Security System and PhilHealth memberships before being allowed to fly abroad.
MI also revealed that the government has imposed additional medical, training and other processing requirements during the COVID pandemic.
MI said the order, issued only a month away from the May 2022 national and local elections, is another desperate device by the Rodrigo Duterte government to milk more funds from the OFWs.
“This is just another mechanism of the Labor Export Program (LEP). The mandatory Pag-IBIG membership only aggravates the current critical condition of Filipinos who are forced to seek overseas employment in order for their families to survive the severe economic crisis brought about by the endless hike in oil price and basic commodities,” MI said.
Jhoanna Concepcion, MI chairperson, said that without an OEC, OFWs are prevented from leaving the country even if they are already in possession of all the necessary working and travel requirements set by their respective host countries.
“Our own government controls our movement. Now, the government is using the OEC to extract money from our hard-working OFWs. Is this the kind of treatment our OFWs deserved?” Concepcion asked.
MI said it plans on mobilizing its chapters in three major global regions and two major countries in North America to protest against this recent mandatory fee and at the same time will revive its call for the abolition of the OEC.
“We also challenge our presidentiables to speak against this new mandatory fee and, if they are elected, we hope they will provide us with relief and not add more burden to our sufferings,” she said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)