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House consolidates bills to support retiring OFWs

AT least three measures pending in a House committee will be consolidated to create a better version of a bill that seeks to provide retirement benefits and welfare assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Once approved, OFWs will be given enough retirement benefits when their employment days are over.

The House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, chaired by ANGKLA Rep. Jesulito Manalo, created a technical working group (TWG) to consolidate three measures filed by SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta; Magdalo Rep. Gary ALejano and Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo.

House Bill 3746 authored by Marcoleta seeks to create an Overseas Filipino Workers Social Security and Retirement System; while HB 547 by Alejano proposes to create the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund; and HB 7228 of Castelo intends to provide for the protection of OFW dependents by setting up for them a special pension fund in the event of income loss due to death or disability.

Under HB 3746, the creation of an Overseas Filipino Workers Retirement Fund System and an OFW Retirement Fund is recommended to which it shall be used to provide retirement benefits and similar gratuities to OFWs and their beneficiaries.

The measure requires all OFWs duly registered with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), to remit five percent of their gross monthly income for at least 10 years.

In addition to the monthly contribution of the OFWs to the Fund, the Fund shall be financed from the following sources: 10 percent from fees charged by Philippine international airports to outgoing OFWs; 10 percent from fees charged by medical testing centers which shall provide medical tests to overseas job-applicants; 10 percent from fees charged by OFW training centers; and P50 million annually for five years to be appropriated and be taken from the Contingency Fund of the Office of the President to complement the Overseas Filipino Workers Fund’s Reserve.

Similarly, HB 5470 proposes the creation of the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund. It requires all OFWs duly registered with the POEA and the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CPO) to remit five percent of their gross monthly income to the Overseas Filipino Workers Pension Fund for five years.

According to Alejano the fund will provide OFWs and their families a guaranteed capital to start anew in the event that they meet an unforeseen misfortune in the course of their work.

On the other hand, HB 7228 seeks to provide for the protection of OFW dependents by setting up for them a special pension fund in the event of income loss due to death or disability.

Castelo explained that in the event the OFWs themselves lose the ability to earn a living, their family and those who depend on them for subsistence become miserable.