Mandatory Pag-ibig coverage of OFWs takes effect August 1

7:32 PM

I screamed UNFAIR when I first read an article about mandatory PAG-IBIG membership and the payment of 600 PHP on top of the OEC fee before a OFW is cleared to travel back or out of the Philippines.

I screamed UNFAIR because although I am a PAG-IBIG member and I believe in the organization, I don't believe in taking the basic rights of the people to choose. The freedom to choose whether the OFW's would want to loan from PAG-IBIG or build their houses slowly from their own savings. To blatantly force people to pay for something that most might not even use is just wrong. Last I check, you need 24 months of payment before one can be eligible for a loan.

And then this article comes out today;

PIA Information Services - Philippine Information Agency

Tacloban City (August 2) -- Membership to the Pag-IBIG fund is now a requirement for the processing of documents of OFWs and the issuance of OEC, for applications processed both in government-run placement agencies and in licensed recruitment agencies.

Based on POEA's Memorandum Circular 06, the mandatory coverage to the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or Pag-IBIG Fund, which took effect Sunday, August 1, involves a membership fee of P600 to be paid by the workers upon deployment.

The amount will cover 6 months. Thereafter, the workers will pay a monthly due of P100. Those already working abroad will automatically be covered by the directive.

The mandatory coverage of the Fund provided for under Republic Act 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009 signed by President Arroyo in July last year.

Under the new law, an OFW-member will contribute a minimum of only P100 a month as contribution, much lower than the US$5 he or she contributed before.

Under Pag-IBIG's universal or expanded membership coverage, all Overseas Filipino Workers, and Filipinos employed by foreign-based employers, whether deployed in the country or abroad, are mandatorily covered beginning January 2010. Also covered are those employees who are members of the SSS and GSIS, uniformed members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Philippine National Police.

Members' contributions are credited to their savings or the total accumulated value that earn dividends and fully guaranteed by the national government. In 2009, Pag-IBIG declared tax-free dividends amounting to P8.5 billion with a dividend rate of 5%. At this dividend rate, an OFW member will generate savings amounting to P40,753 if he contributes P100 monthly for 20 years; P81,507 if he contributes P200; and P203,768 at P500 a month.

The savings are also portable which remain in the name of a member even if he transfers employers, works abroad or becomes self-employed or even unemployed.

OFW-members can avail of short-term loans that will help address their immediate financial needs such as payment for tuition fees, hospital bills, appliance purchases, minor home repairs, and even for small business capital.

OFWs can apply for a home financing loan that has an interest rate of as low as 6% to 11.5% payable in 30 years. The maximum loan amount is P3 million. In 2009, Pag-IBIG extended a total of P9.6 billion in housing loans to their OFW members which financed 12,233 housing units. (PIA 8) [top]

I am confused with the line: "Under the new law, an OFW-member will contribute a minimum of only P100 a month as contribution, much lower than the US$5 he or she contributed before." Is the 100 PHP the payment fee for PAG-IBIG membership when getting the OEC? Or is that the standard monthly contribution all across?

I'm confused because I pay 14 KWD a month or 2,198 PHP. That amount is seriously a far cry from 100 PHP.

If that's the case, couple of months of 14 KWD payment can make me eligible to acquire a loan now basing on the 24 months membership payment. Uhm. This needs a whole lot more research and open mind.

Although I like the idea that the 600 PHP to be paid by those who aren't a member yet can be stretched into 6 months because it will be light in the pocket.

I wish Philippine Embassy of Kuwait will update their website to keep us OFW's here in Kuwait well informed. If they only answer their landlines & update their website, the work traffic in the embassy would surely be lessened.

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