OFWs in Middle East oppose $50 OWWA fee

by Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Jun 22 2012 06:22 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2012 07:14 AM

KUWAIT - Overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East have expressed strong opposition to the House Bill 6195 filed by Manila Representative Maria Theresa Bonoan-David to double the OWWA fee collected from every OFW from $25 to $50 per contract.

The proposed law has been trending on social media sites early this week as several groups were created on Facebook, urging OFWs to sign an online petition against the bill.

OFWs in the Middle East view the bill as an additional burden on the many fees that they have to pay whenever they have to renew their contracts, as well as those seeking employment overseas for the first time.

OFWs have hit Bonoan-David, calling her insensitive to the plight of millions of OFWs across the globe dubbed as Modern Day Heroes for keeping the Philippines' economy afloat with their remittances.

Rebecca Adriano, a household service worker in Kuwait told the ABS-CBN Middle East that she too is against the bill for her monthly salary is very small at 80 Kuwaiti dinars or about $240.

Though her employer is willing to pay for her OWWA fee, Adriano asked how about those household service workers whose employers are not willing to shoulder any additional fee.

“Para sa akin, kasi hindi naman pare-parehas ang mga amo, sa akin hindi ako payag, pero kung mga amo itaas ang sahod namin, ok walang problema, hindi naman kami ang nagbabayad, pero ang iba amo, hindi naman pare-parehas kasi,” she said.

Another OFW in Kuwait, John Germono, doesn't mind an increase in the OWWA fee provided that he benefits from it directly.

“Well ok lang na magtaas sila from $25 to $50 or even more basta mapapakinabangan ng mga OFW. Kasi it has been sometime na maghintay pa ang mga OFW bago nila mapakinabangan iyon,” Germono said.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Myragene Rada opposes the $25 increase. She said it’s another burden on OFWs who are paying a lot of fees.

“Definitely no! I do not agree to that. Milyun-milyong OFW ang maapektuhan…So titingnan mo sa marami na nating hinuhulog sa OWWA at kung saan-saan pa napakabigat na ang $50 sa isang OFW,” Rada said.

Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog Awards (PEBA) Chair Jeebee Solis of Jeddah said the current $25 is more than enough to fund OFW projects and the repatriation program of OWWA.

“Saan napupunta ang iyong binabayad ng mga OFW na $25? Kasi kung iiispin mo merong 4,000 OFWs na umaalis ng bansa araw-araw, so may P15 million tayo sa isang taon para sa OWWA. Di pa ba sapat iyong P15 million na yon para sa pag-organize ng mga projects para sa mga OFWs pati na ang repatriation program?” Solis said.

OFWs in Saudi aired their sentiments towards Vice President Jejomar Binay during his visit there this week.

In Doha, Qatar, Racky Bawit shared the same sentiments with the other OFWs. He admits his salary is not even enough to support his family in the Philippines.

“Napakaliit po ng sahod namin dito sa abroad tapos dadagdagan nyo pa ng $50 paano na po ang aming pamilya? Ang liit po ang sahod namin. Hirap na po kami magpadala sa aming pamilya,” Bawit said.

On the part of the manpower agencies, the officers of the Philippine Society of Marketing Specialists in Kuwait and the Filipino Association of Secretaries of Employment Agencies in Kuwait (FIL-ASEAK) considered the bill unnecessary as oFws being deployed already have the mandatory insurance of $144 being shouldered by the manpower agencies or the employers of the OFWs.

“Ang agency nagbigay na rin kami ng insurance, ang agency din ang nag shoulder at pag may problema ang isang worker at kailangang i-deport agency ang nag sho-shoulder ng expenses. Ang masasabi ko lang iyang $50 na I-add sa amin siguro burden na naman iyan sa amin agency. Saan mapupunta ang $50? Saan ba gagamitin? Sino makikinabang dyan? Ang OFW ba ang makikinabang? Pag na-deport ang worker dito na ba ang ang kukunin ang gastusin at hindi na ba ang agency mag shoulder nyan?” said FIL-ASEAK president, Maripol Abdalla.

Meanwhile, Dolor Elenany, treasurer of the Philippine Society of Marketing Specialists in Kuwait said “Hindi na po ito kailangan dahil meron na po tayong mandatory insurance na binabayaran which covers the protection of OFWs. So kung meron na naman po additional $25, it will just be an added burden at gastos na naman po on the part of the workers and agencies”.