MANILA, Philippines - Pension fund Social Security System (SSS) collected a total of P2.17 billion in contributions from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) last year, up 17% from P1.85 billion in 2010.
SSS President and CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. said social security coverage of overseas workers is among the agency's top priorities, adding that they want to reach out to more OFWs through additional foreign offices and expansion of e-payment and online services.
"The SSS posted a double-digit growth in OFW collection for the third straight year. It reflects the growing awareness among overseas workers of the importance of active SSS membership and saving for retirement and other contingencies," he said.
The SSS has over 738,000 OFW members at present, which it aims to expand through tie-ups with key agencies handling deployment of migrant workers such as the Department of Labor and Employment and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
"OFWs are usually excluded from social protection programs in their country of employment, even if many of them work in high-risk environments and are considered family breadwinners. This further highlights the value of SSS," he said.
De Quiros said SSS has launched various programs to entice OFWs to become active members. One of these is the Member-Get-Member promo, which offers monthly raffle prizes and a travel package for two in the Grand Draw for successful referral of OFWs.
"More than 1,900 OFWs so far have registered through SSS branches and foreign offices, as well as via the SSS website at www.sss.gov.ph. One active participant has referred as many as 109 OFWs at present, and we are only in the third month of the promo," he said.
The SSS chief added that bilateral social security agreements between the Philippines and other countries are also underway. He said the agency wrapped up negotiations with Denmark and Portugal in 2011, and is preparing for initial talks with Japan this year. It is also eyeing other countries, including Australia, China, Cyprus, Germany and Sweden.
"By forging bilateral agreements with other nations, we also help overseas Filipinos become entitled to social security benefits comparable to those received by citizens of their host countries."