Duterte orders PhilHealth to make premium payment for OFWs voluntary

Marje Pelayo   •   May 4, 2020   •   800

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has directed state insurer Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to make premium contributions voluntary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to mounting complaints from Filipinos here and abroad.

READ: PhilHealth’s 3% mandatory pay hike amid global pandemic draws public ire

The President wants to ensure that no further load will be added to OFWs at this time of health and financial crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Nag-issue po ng direktiba ang ating Presidente sa Philhealth para gawing boluntaryo ang pagbabayad ng OFWs ng Philhealth premiums, [The President has already directed PhilHealth to make payment for PhilHealth contributionrs for OFWs voluntary,]” Roque confirmed. 

Roque, being one of the principal authors of the Universal Health Care Act during his time as Representative of Kabayan Partylist in the 17th Congress, stressed that there was no provision on his version of the law that orders mandatory additional premium contribution among OFWs.

He added that it was PhilHealth that included such provision as it is the one that crafted the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said law.

Roque also clarified that PhilHealth premiums will only increase by 0.5%, and not 3%.

“Wala po sa batas na nagsasabi na dapat patawan ang mga OFWs ng karagdagang premiums sa pamamaraan na nais ipatupad ng Philhealth, [Mandatory payment of premium contributions for OFWs was not included in the original version the way PhilHealth wants it to happen,]” Roque.

“Iyan po ay nasa implementing rules and regulations, [They included it in the implementing rules and regulations,]” he added.

Roque also clarified that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) do not require payments of PhilHealth premiums prior to processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

Bodies of dead OFWs from Saudi Arabia to be flown home starting Friday – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvester Bello III on Wednesday said that the remains of overseas Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia will be brought home in batches starting Friday.

Bello said the first batch will be comprised of 44 bodies of deceased OFWs – 19 of whom succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while the others died of various causes.

The remains will arrive at the Villamor Airbase via a chartered flight on July 10.

Bello said those who died from COVID-19 will be immediately brought to a crematorium for cremation. Their ashes will then be turned over to their families.

For OFWs who died of natural causes, the labor chief said that their remains may be claimed by their relatives or sent to their respective provinces.

The second batch of OFW remains will arrive on Sunday. A total of 274 remains of OFWs will be flown home from Saudi Arabia.

Bello said the bodies will be repatriated in batches because they cannot bring them home all at once due to stringent protocols and requirements.

“Unahin muna natin yung nakumpleto ang papeles kasi ang hirap ng mga papeles dito. Meron from the Ministry of Labor, meron Ministry of Foreign Affairs nila, ospital kung saan galing yung labi. Ang pinakamahirap yung consent ng employer ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured it will extend aid to the families of deceased workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the families of both active and inactive members of the agency will receive financial assistance.

“Bereavement financial assistance at a minimum for inactive OWWA members and then there is an additional death and burial benefit for the active OWWA member in addition to other related benefits like livelihood. But there will be a minimun financial basic assistance for all,” Cacdac said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mon Jocson/Jaycel Valera)

Marikina City to shorten quarantine period for returning OFW residents

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 8, 2020

The Marikina City government announced that returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who are residents of the city will have shorter quarantine period.

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said residents who are OFW returnees will no longer have to undergo the 14-day quarantine period but instead will immediately be transported to the city from the airport for a one or two-day quarantine.

“Pansamantala, isa o dalawang araw, iku-quarantine sila sa Marikina Hotel doon sa ating quarantine facility at doon iti-test na rin sila at isa-swab, (They will be quarantined at the Marikina Hotel, our quarantine facility, for one or two days. They will be tested there),” he said.

Since Marikina has its own testing center, Teodoro said the OFWs don’t need to wait for long periods of time to be able to go home to their families. In case any of them tests positive for COVID-19, the Marikina Mayor assured they will be given immediate medical attention.

According to the latest reports of the Marikina government, 264 returning OFWs that arrived since April are from Marikina City, 161 of them have already received assistance from the local government.

The local government aims to implement the new quarantine protocol by next week. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

Solon pushes for military honors for OFWs who died of COVID-19 abroad

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is pushing for the granting of military honors to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who succumbed to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) abroad as they can be considered as ‘modern-day heroes.’

Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. in House Resolution No. 1027 said the sacrifices of OFWs and their significant contribution to the country’s economy are enough to merit them such military honors. 

Based on the latest count of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a total of 577 OFWs have already died of COVID-19 from the overall number of 8,679 confirmed cases across the globe.

Datol said OFWs are qualified under The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines for their unconditional sacrifices as overseas workers.

The lawmaker also proposed that the government shoulder the complete burial expenses of every OFW who died of COVID-19 abroad as part of the full military honors. 

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