MANILA - Former President and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is seeking to provide unemployment benefits to displaced and returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
In her House Bill No. 2208, Arroyo said a number of returning OFWs are without jobs after spending years of employment outside the Philippines.
Their reintegration in the workforce is a challenge because most of them do not have many options for employment upon their return, Arroyo said.
"They either become entrepreneurs if they have substantial earnings or worse, they end up being unemployed. With this unfortunate scenario, OFWs must be given assistance when they return," she said.
Arroyo said returning Filipino workers should be given unemployment benefits by the Social Security System (SSS) to help them "address the pressing financial difficulty that unemployment brings and will enable a member to look for alternative options while looking for gainful employment."
Under her bill, an OFW who is a member of the SSS for at least seven years and have regularly paid monthly contribution for the same period is eligible to receive the unemployment benefit.
The unemployed OFW must be actively looking for employment for at least 30 days prior to the filing of the claim, and that he or she had sought assistance from a concerned government agency in seeking employment.
If eligible, the qualified OFW will receive a monthly unemployment benefit for a period of a maximum of 12 months or until unemployment ceases whichever comes first. This benefit can only be availed of once every seven years.
Arroyo said under her bill, the funding requirement will be automatically given by the national government annually which shall be equivalent to 10 percent of 1 percent or 0.1 percent of the total OFW remittances of the immediate preceding year.
The SSS, during the recent hearing of the House Committee on Government Enterprise and Privatization, agreed to give the unemployment benefit to returning OFWs but said a study should be made to determine the rate of benefit.
House Committee Chairman on Government Enterprises Jesus Sacdalan said a technical working group, which Arroyo agreed to be part of, should be constituted to determine the rate of benefit.