– The House committee on Filipino Overseas Workers unanimously approved Wednesday House Bill 161 or the Overseas Credit Workers Assistance authored by Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara.
Under the bill, migrant workers who have valid contract certified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration can avail themselves of loan of up to P50,000 even before they leave the country for posting abroad.
The loan facility is proposed to be coursed through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which managed the P100-million borrowing program that was suspended in 2005 after just two years in operation.
“This bill is our little contribution to help OFWs who we called the new heroes of our generation,” Angara said.
The panel chaired by Compostela Valley Rep. Manuel Zamora unanimously approved the bill. The committee secretariat was instructed to prepare the committee report to be submitted for the plenary approval.
Angara’s proposal provides for a maximum loan amount of P50,000, payable in 12 months at a preferred interest rate of not more than six percent a year.
Angara said the program was intended to ease the financial burden of departing OFWs who usually end up leaving behind their families in huge debts due to the costs of processing of their overseas employment contract.
The loan amount would be covered with loan redemption insurance from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), with the OFW paying the premium through an account with any domestic or foreign banking institution authorized to do business in the Philippines, with a member of his or her family designated as a co-borrower.
Meanwhile, the panel deferred Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor’s House Bill No.1740 that seeks to grant benefits and special privileges to former OFWs.
Panel members including Reps. Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay and Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian moved to defer the deliberation of the measure because of some questions on the content of the bill.
Defensor was not present to clarify the queries of his colleagues.
One of the resource persons – a representative from the Department of Social Welfare and Development – did not object to the bill but suggested to make revisions on some provisions.
Under the bill, returning OFWs who can get a 20-percent discount on some privileges, should at least be 50 years old, have been deployed abroad for at least 10 years and earning not exceeding P60,000 a year.
With the given criteria, the representative of DSWD expressed apprehension that no former OFWs would pass the guidelines.
Zamora then moved to defer the discussion on the bill and instructed the secretariat to invite representatives of various establishments that will provide 20 percent discount to the beneficiaries.
Under the bill, former OFWs will be entitled to 20-percent discount on transport services, lodging, recreation facilities, medicine and others. – GMANews.TV