By Ellson Quismorio
Senatorial candidate, Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares and Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate on Wednesday castigated the Social Security System (SSS) for imposing mandatory contributions on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on top of the planned contribution increase in April.
“Ang dapat talaga ay voluntary lang ang membership ng OFWs sa SSS dahil hindi naman pare-pareho ang kalagayan nila sa iba’t ibang bansa (SSS membership among OFWs should only be voluntary since their situation abroad varies),” said Colmenares.
Based on the recently published draft IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) of the Social Security Act of 2018, Rule 14 Section 5: IV states that a land-based OFW shall pay both the employer and the employee contributions.
This until such time that the host country enters into a bilateral labor agreement with the Philippines.
“Our OFWs will be forced to shoulder the entire premium of at least P2,400 per month as long as the host country does not enter into a bilateral agreement to obligate employers to remit their contributions. There is even the proposal that leaving OFWs to pre-pay their SSS contributions, which would be an added burden considering they haven’t even earned anything yet,” Colmenares said.
Zarate pointed out that the P2,400 contribution will be on top of the US$144 mandatory insurance that is also being pushed by the government.
“Kapag ganito ay hindi talaga makakaipon ang mga OFWs at malamang ay malubog pa sa utang (OFWs won’t be able to save money under this system, they may even get buried in debt),” he said.
The IRR mandates that the SSS, along with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), must ensure its implementation by the host country via bilateral labour agreement that will obligate foreign employers to remit their contributions.
“Kapag ganito ay mapag-iinitan pa ng mga employer ang mga OFWs at baka matanggal pa sila sa trabaho dahil sa iniimpose ng SSS (OFWs run the risk of being picked on by employers and they might even lose their jobs because of what SSS is imposing),” the Davao-based solon warned.
Zarate further slammed the SSS for its supposed “default” mindset of always increasing its premium as well as its forced collection among workers.
Colmenares said that what the SSS should do in order to extend the life of its funds is to improve its collection and go after delinquent employers instead of wringing employees and OFWs dry.
“We have always demanded that SSS conduct reforms in collection and investment efficiency but it has lazily resorted to increasing members’ contribution. Had SSS increased its collection to 25 million members out of its 36 million members, there may not even be a need for a contribution increase in order to fund the expanded maternity leave law,” Colmenares said.