Lawmakers on Tuesday lauded the the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for scrapping the requirement for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to pay PhilHealth premiums before they can be issued overseas employment certificate (OEC).
The POEA and OWWA decision came after OFWs expressed dismay and anger over a PhilHealth circular it issued last month regarding the mandatory 3 percent contribution of OFWs and making it a pre-requisite to receive OEC.
Even President Rodrigo Duterte, in response to growing public clamor against the circular, ordered PhilHealth to suspend the rate increase and make the payment of premiums voluntary for OFWs.
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said: “The President’s action demonstrates his compassion for the millions of overseas Filipino workers whom we hail as 'bagong bayani' for keeping the economy afloat with their regular remittances. Instead, we have to continue working on providing assistance to them to survive the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic. They have been enduring many hardships, including extended separation from their families and loved ones."
Romualdez said the President's "(order) reflects his (President Duterte) sincere commitment to help and protect our OFWs in this time of COVID-19 crisis. "OFWs are our global rockstars. They have been recognized internationally for being hard workers, who work with dignity and pride, very hospitable head with unparalleled resourcefulness in their undertakings,” said Romualdez, the co-chairperson of the Defeat COVID-19 Committee (DCC),