DAVAO CITY, Philippines – After drawing strong opposition from migrant workers, the government is suspending the increase in premium rates for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) to be collected from their salaries.
This was announced Monday, May 4, by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, saying President Rodrigo Duterte issued the directive and said payment to the PhilHealth premium from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as “voluntary”.
Roque added that Health Secretary Francisco Duque announced the suspension of implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Universal Health Care Law that stipulates the mandatory increase in premium payments for OFWs.
This means OFWs are no longer required to pay the premium before securing an overseas employment certificate, the spokesperson said.
“While we are facing a crisis, President Duterte decided not to impose additional burden to our OFWs, especially at a time when many of them have been repatriated and lost their jobs,” Roque said.
Based on PhilHealth Circular 2020-0014, OFWs whose monthly income ranges from P10,000 to P60,000 must pay a 3% monthly premium, up from 2.75% last year.
But Migrante International said the “suspension (of the premium hike) will not suffice for long” as this “is merely dousing cold water to the PhilHealth issue in its attempt to sedate the loud outrage of Filipino migrants against this unjust and extortionate law.”
The migrant group also challenged Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, on his claims that PhilHealth premium benefits the OFWs.
“OFWs are refuting his claim… since there are no PhilHealth accredited hospitals abroad. Furthermore, Filipinos have never lost sight of the corruption scandals that have been plaguing Philhealth year in year out,” the group said.
Migrante International has been calling for the scrapping of the mandatory collection of premium as their petition has garnered more than 400,000 signatories. A joint position launched by the group was signed by 180 Filipino migrant organizations all over the world.
“OFWs deserve to get steady and efficient relief at this time of crisis. The Duterte regime better stop treating Filipino migrants as milking cows to subsidize big private profit in a country dominated by profit-oriented healthcare facilities,” the group said.
As Congress resumes session on Monday, Migrante challenges Duterte to repeal the provision on the mandatory PhilHealth exaction from the Universal Health Care Law, which was signed last year. (davaotoday.com)