Source: facebook.com/Global OFW Voices
WE CRY FOUL to PHILHEALTH’S plan of implementing an increase in premium payment for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from PhP 900 to PhP1,2000 then PhP 2,400 effective Jan 1, 2013!
Who are we and why do we need to introduce ourselves?
We are a nation of approximately 10 million OFWs (11% of the 92 million Filipinos) scattered all over the different continents with a saga about our struggle for empowerment and recognition. We believe that OFW empowerment and recognition will only be realized through a collective effort among our ranks, thus, we have connected together through the different social media platforms to voice out our sentiments and beliefs on issues that affect us, our families and our loved ones. We represent OFWs from 67 different countries who have bonded together to call ourselves the Global OFW Voices. Our voices echoed the boundless corners of Social Media, together; we raised our arms to declare our utmost disappointment with the government for treating our sector as “milking cows” to finance the current administration’s political agenda to implement a flawed Universal Health Insurance strategy under the disguise of solidarity.
We introduce ourselves because we are not the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys that sat in the hotel function rooms during the many consultative meetings of PhilHealth with the OFWs. We don’t know who those OFW representatives are and we don’t know who they really represented during those “pricey” meetings.
We call on the President of the Republic of the Philippines, His Excellency Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino, together with his appointees to the Board of PhilHealth headed by Secretary Enrique T. Ona and Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon, to please carefully consider this impending hike as this will definitely undermine the mandate of your offices.
We knocked on your doors, using the power of Social Media. We cried while knocking, until we found for ourselves that we had ENOUGH! We posted our complaints to the PhilHealth page, supposedly dedicated for OFWs but what did we get? The platform where we expected to voice out our sentiments turned their deaf ears and decided to be blind. We barraged the Page walls with posts, links, requests and pictures because we wanted the leadership of PhilHealth to read and feel the sentiment of the OFWs. But what happened? The Philhealth page dedicated for OVERSEAS FILIPINO’s DELETED THEM ALL! What does this mean?
WE STRONGLY OPPOSE THE INCREASE AND PLEAD PHILHEALTH TO ABANDON THIS PLAN!
The OFWs have already provided the Philippine economy the stability it desperately needs; we have provided our families their food and kept them in school so our next generation of Filipinos will be healthy and educated. We found ourselves a job abroad because our government is unable to create jobs in our home land. Even the strengthening of peso is wounding us, it epitomizes our contribution to our nation building brought by our dollar remittances. You even called us “Bagong Bayani”! Is this how our nation treats their ‘bayani’?
Do you still find this contribution to the national coffers insufficient? Hindi pa din po ba sapat ang mahigit sa P18 Bilyong Remittances kada taon na bunga ng aming pagtitiis, paghihirap, at minsan pagbubuwis ng sariling buhay? We believe that despite the emerging markets slump, the euro zone continuous struggle, and the slowdown in the economies of the BRIC countries, feared to drag down the global economy, the Philippine economy continues to surge surpassing IMF’s forecast growth of 3.5% for 2012. We believe that the money sent as remittances by 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) which account for about 10% of the country’s GDP, serve as one of the long-term stabilizers, and is relatively unhindered by a sagging global economy.
We oppose the hike because it is not morally acceptable to put additional burden to our yoke! Mga Ginoo, ibinuwis na ng iba sa amin ang buhay mapunan lang ang hindi kayang ibigay ng gobyerno, ang magkaroon ng trabaho. Then you will tell us 3.50/day is nothing to the benefits we will get?
- Did Philhealth consult us OFWs? You said yes. How? When? Did you consider the overall impact to this to our sector? Consult our Facebook pages, those voices are not faceless, we use Facebook to keep us sane, we used it so that you will see the very soul of our sentiment.
- We were under the impression that we are protected by RA 10022 which “prohibits increase of government fees imposed to OFWs” then suddenly, Philhealth starts to slap us all with technicalities that “premium” is not “fees”. Seriously?
- We were paying Php 900 then you increased it this year to 1,200 without due consultation with the general OFW stakeholders. You shoved that increase down our throat, and then did you realize that you can abuse us further so few months from implementing the hike, you swiftly decided that you would slap us again with over 100% increase to Php 2,400! Wala na ba talaga kayong awa?
We are not against your Universal Health Plan, as a matter of fact we like its objectives. We believe that it is the prime duty and goal of the government in keeping Filipinos in good health with the implementation of the Universal Health Care or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan Program which aims to ensure the availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of all the necessary health services for all Filipinos—whether rich or poor.
We support the Program’s aims to provide the highest possible quality of health care that is accessible, efficient, equitably distributed, adequately funded and fairly financed while appropriately used by an informed and empowered public. We believe and support the Program’s objectives of providing poor citizens with solidarity health insurance through the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) where the government helps the marginalized and impoverished people in the society. We believe that in order for the Program to succeed, the government should be able to provide adequate resources—health human resources, health facilities, and health financing.
What we are against is the government’s abusive and inconsiderate direction to have the OFWs shoulder the additional funds that will sustain the current administration’s political agenda. We are just workers abroad. When we go back home during our vacation, we would like to be with our families where we need money to enjoy our limited time and we use our hard earned money for our needs, money which we do not have enough most of the time. Increasing that fee or premium (whatever you may want to call it) is a total manifestation of your lack of regard to those who enslave themselves in return for a meager salary.
We demand that Philhealth coverage becomes optional to OFWs
- We never denied that some of the OFWs benefit from PhilHealth through their dependents. However, majority of us are already under a better insurance coverage provided by our employers. This is the perfect time to revisit your policy regarding OFWs. Do not insist on your premise of solidarity, excuse us Sirs, we make our nation’s economy afloat. Let us know if that is not enough.
- A significant number of OFWs have no “eligible” dependents because they are single, with parents under 60 years of age. They have no use for it, how can your conscience allow you to live your life thinking that these OFWs are not using it, the government has a mandate to care for the Filipino people, we are already suffering to help our nation survive the global financial crisis, don’t pass everything to us!
We stand firm that this increase is unjust, wrong and morally unacceptable. Your leadership, Mr. President should re-examine PhilHealth’s mandatory collection of premium as majority of the OFWs do not directly benefit from it. Our task is to love our country and we are already keeping our nation standing economically, it is extremely abusive to extort the overseas workers!
The OFWs through the Facebook group of Global Voices and Pinoy Expats/OFW Blogs Awards, Inc. will not stop in making this plea – NO TO PHILHEALTH INCREASE! YES TO OPTIONAL MEMBERSHIP.
Once again, Mr. President and the PhilHealth Board, do not keep us groping in the dark, for we too are part of the Philippines!