By Joann Villanueva, PNA
MANILA — Social Security System (SSS) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aurora C. Ignacio assured Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that her office continues to work with other government agencies help to bring about the compulsory coverage of the migrant worker sector, assuring their pension benefits in the future.
This, as the amended Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act makes it compulsory for all land-based and sea-based OFWs to be SSS members, which was further reinforced by the Social Security Act of 2018.
In an interview after the OFW forum on the Social Security Act of 2018 at the SSS’ main office along East Avenue in Quezon City Friday, Ignacio said some guidelines have been established with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
She said POEA officials have yet to determine how they can collect the initial SSS contribution from OFWs without giving the workers additional burden on top of the fees they need to pay before they can work abroad.
She said the workers cannot object to this payment “but we would like to think that the benefits or whatever benefits that they will get from those they have been paying are temporary while they are employed or while they are not employed,” she said.
“That’s why we will not stop this law to be implemented because of its long-term benefits for the workers,” she said.
SSS officials said OFWs need to pay the minimum initial contribution of PHP960 so they can avail of the SSS benefits.
Even with just one month contribution payment, families of an OFW can claim a lump sum amount of PHP58,400 for death, disability and retirement, among others.
Ignacio said they will also map-out countries with large numbers of OFWs but do not have Bilateral Social Security Agreements with the Philippines.
She said SSS cannot suspend the collection of SSS contribution from OFWs amid the lack of bilateral labor agreement (BLA) with host countries because there is no provision in the law for this.
“So as early as we can we really need to fine-tune the guidelines,” she added.
To date, there are about 1.14 million registered land-based OFWs who are members of SSS.
SSS officials, however, said that only about 48 percent or around 550,000 OFWs paid contribution s of least one month in 2018 to PHP6.37 billion. (PNA)