The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) must reach out to other countries and forge more social security agreements (SSAs), especially those with a large number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), urged Senator Imee Marcos on Monday. An SSA agreement with Korea, once concurred by at least two-thirds of the Senate, will be the 16th SSA that the Philippines has successfully negotiated since 1982. The existing bilateral SSAs are with Austria (1982), United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (1989), Spain (1989), France (1994), Canada (1997), Quebec (1998), Netherlands (2001), Switzerland (2004), Belgium (2005), Denmark (2015), Portugal (2017), Germany (2018), Japan (2018), Sweden (2019), and Luxembourg (2020), according to data from the Social Security System (SSS). Marcos said OFWs in countries where the Philippines has no SSA pacts need to pay multiple social security remittances. "Hanggang ngayon, dalawa o tatlong beses nakakaltasan ang sahod ng Pilipino. Wala ba tayong balak na paspasan ng kaunti ang prosesong ito (Until now, the salaries of the Filipinos there are being deducted two to three times. Do we have a plan to hasten this process)?" the committee chair asked DFA Assistant Secretary Aileen Mendiola-Rau. Rau vowed to work with DMW to negotiate with foreign counterparts to add more SSAs and submit a status report to the committee as well. The Philippines-Korea SSA is expected to activate and operationalize, on the part of the Philippines, the constitutional duty of the State 'to afford full protection to labor, whether local or overseas.' Around 62,000 Filipinos in South Korea are expected to enjoy the benefits of the SSA. The SSA was signed on November 2019 yet on the sidelines of the ASEAN - Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit attended by former president Rodrigo Duterte. Korea OFWs' social security coverage will remain under Korea's National Pension Service (NPS) and there will be no transfer of contributions to the SSS, among other features of the SSA. The SSS said the renegotiated agreement also provides an option for OFWs to refund their NPS contributions at the end of their employment contract under the same conditions given to Korean nationals. The SSA was first forged in 2005 but OFWs opposed some parts of the deal, like coverage and the lump sum refund.
Source: Philippines News Agency