Date Posted: November 30, 2010
Source: by Ellene A. Sana, Center for Migrant Advocy Phils.
As problems hound the implementation of the mandatory insurance policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello announces an initial set of solutions that the Lower House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COCOWA) can undertake.
“The committee received a number of reports that suggest the mandatory insurance policy as it is implemented now does more harm than good for our migrant workers,” Bello, who is also Chairperson of COWA, said.
Aside the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) report of a 50 per cent decline in the number of contracts processed after the Migrant Workers Act took effect, Bello also referred to reports he received from various groups, including migrants’ organizations, employers, and employment agencies, identifying the following problems:
1. Employers say that the mandatory insurance policy is redundant, particularly in some countries such as Hongkong where they report to have an existing insurance system covering the risk areas that the DOLE policy intends to cover,
2. Filipino employment agencies pointed out that the sudden rise in prices of insurance premium is unreasonable and illogical because when the number of policy holders increase, it follows that the costs of insurance premium must decrease.
“Isang malawakang imbestigasyon ang dapat simulan agad ng Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Oversease Workers Affairs upang tugunan ang mga isyung ito,” Bello said.
According to the Migrant Workers Act, it is the COCOWA that has the mandate to review the mandatory insurance policy and make the necessary adjustments to the law.
Meanwhile, Bello said that COWA will proceed with the initial inquiry.
“At the next hearing, we’ll also look into a moratorium on the implementation of the mandatory insurance policy,” Bello said. “Naniniwala akong mas maayos ang magiging imbestigasyon, at mababawasan ang pangamba ng ating mga kababayan kung pansamanatala nating ititigil ang implementasyon ng mandatory insurance.”
Bello also called on migrant workers’ and recruitment agencies’ involvement in the process.
“Perhaps we will also revisit the opposition that migrant workers groups from the country, and from Saudi, UAE, Holland, Thailand, Nigeria, Hongkong and the other groups that were involved in the crafting of the Migrant Workers Act,” Bello concluded. “Patuloy po nating tatanggapin ang mga reports mula sa iba’t ibang mga organisasyon ng mga OFWs, at hinihikayat rin natin ang kanilang pakikilahok sa paghahanap ng mga posibleng solusyon sa isyu. At this point, the cooperation of the various stakeholders will be crucial in resolving the problem.”