Gatchalian: Nothing to worry about

LATELY, there has been a lot of flak about the law which took effect recently mandating foreign employers to pay a mandatory insurance coverage for every Filipino migrant worker that they would hire.

But what was worth noting is that not a single complaint came from the foreign principals who are supposed to pay the insurance premiums but rather all the noises come from our very own fellow Filipino overseas job recruiters.

It turned out that these recruiters are afraid that the foreign employers might pass unto them the payment of premiums, which would mean a huge cut from their potential earnings. Tsk…tsk…

With this in mind, Rep. Rex Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City) the principal author of the law was prompted to come out and speak out.

He maintained that the new law was enacted and created to protect the interests of the country’s migrant workers.

Gatchalian likewise stressed the recently approved Republic Act (RA) 10022 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, which amends RA 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act of 1995, will not be counter-productive and might lead to an eventual halt of OFWs deployment as job recruiters would want the people to believe.

“Let me assure the public that these fears by some sectors are unfounded. Our OFWs are among the best in the world but despite that distinction they are also one of the most abused, so this law is aimed at giving them some measures of protection especially during their times of distress” he said.

“The insurance coverage is a measly amount which our OFWs’ potential employers could afford to pay, but it has far and wide ranging implications especially with regard to the trust and confidence that the employers have on their Filipino hires” Gatchalian continued.

Under the new law, recruiters face appropriate penalties if they pass on the insurance coverage fee to their recruits whether directly or indirectly.

The same law stressed that a certificate of cover (COC) provided by an insurance company that is licensed and certified by the Insurance Commission (IC) is required before the issuance of overseas employment certificate (OEC) or exit clearance of agency-hired overseas workers.

For seafarers, a certificate of entry or other proof of insurance coverage from the manning agency shall be accepted if the vessel is covered by protection and indemnity, provided that the minimum coverage are included.

The coverage must also conform to pertinent POEA rules and regulations and the POEA Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Overseas Employment of Filipino Seafarers on Board Ocean-Going Ships.

Job recruiters have said that they may not be able to make their principals agree to pay additional fees for insurance premium, which may reach as much as US$150 (about P6,500) as they hinted that they may be forced to close shop as a result of the mandatory insurance coverage.

The compulsory insurance coverage, which took effect on November 8, requires employers or recruiters to secure a two-year policy coverage for OFWs that includes benefits of $15,000 in case of accidental death; $10,000 in case of natural death; and $7,500 in case of permanent disablement, including repatriation costs, subsistence allowance benefit, money claims, compassionate visit, medical evacuation and medical repatriation.

“There is nothing wrong with this law. Our OFWs deserve better treatment not only from our government but also from their employers who directly benefit from the quality services that they render to them” he emphasized. Bobby Ricohermoso

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