MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Sunday said the increased PhilHealth premium for overseas Filipino workers are among government fees for which they would not "benefit at all."
Under PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014, the state insurance agency said OFWs with an income of P10,000 to P20,000 would be required to pay 3 percent of their monthly salary starting 2020, an increase from 2.75 percent the previous year.
An initial payment of P2,400 is required prior to the OFW's departure and they may settle the balance after 6 months or in the next 2 quarters, PhilHealth said.
The measure was first announced in an advisory last Dec. 23, and took effect after it was published in a major newspaper on April 22.
"It is like an income tax which was abolished for OFWs and even their tax-free income filings were destroyed. They are just totally out of the purview of government exactions for which they will not benefit at all," Locsin said.
An online petition seeking to repeal the measure has earned 261,701 signatures, as of this posting.
ABS-CBN News has reached out to PhilHealth but it has yet to receive a response.
Gabriela Women's Party, in a statement, accused the state insurance agency of making OFWs "a milking cow" and said it would file a resolution for a review of the new rate.
"It has the audacity to collect and collect when OFWs hardly benefited from it in the face of COVID-19... Talagang hindi virus kundi kahirapan at patung-patong na kaltas ang ikamamatay ng ating mga kababayan," Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said.
"This pandemic should make us realize that healthcare and social protection programs should be funded sufficiently by the national government and not corporatized like under the current contribution system. Dagdag na badyet sa kalusugan at social protection, hindi dagdag kaltas sa bulsang butas ng mga manggagawa."