MANILA, Philippines?The law requiring overseas Filipino workers to become members of the government housing fund Pag-IBIG should be amended, Migrante said in a statement Thursday.
John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator for Migrante in the Middle East and an OFW in Saudi Arabia, said OFW membership to the Home Development Mutual Fund (formal name of Pag-IBIG) should be voluntary as in the existing program called Pag-IBIG Overseas Program (POP).
?Voluntary, not compulsory, membership to Pag-IBIG would give leeway to OFW families to choose between getting a housing loan or simply building their own home at a lower cost,? Monterona explained.
He proposed that the OWWA Fund (with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), which now stands at about $12 billion from $25 membership fees, should be tapped to expand OFW welfare programs and benefits, including housing.
?Unfortunately, the OWWA fund, amounting now to an estimated P12-billion held in trust by the government through OWWA, diminished its welfare programs and benefits to OFWs and families when OWWA passed the anti-OFW OWWA Omnibus Policies in 2002 ,? Monterona said.
To express its opposition to the law mandating OFW membership to Pag-IBIG, Monterona said OFWs will stage a series of protest actions, he said.
Republic Act 9679, signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on 21 July 2009, makes Pag-IBIG membership mandatory for OFWs and other sectors.