Wednesday, October 1, 2008

'No' to Bilateral on OFW Pension Funds

by Elizer Peñaranda
South Korea
The author, Editor-in-Chief of Sulyapinoy Newsletter in South Korea, has given Barangay OFW his kind permission to re-publish this article. You may reach Mr. Elizer Peñaranda at
SEOUL, South Korea--Various Filipino organizations are opposing the National Pension Scheme-Social Security System (NPS-SSS), a bilateral agreement on social security between South Korea and the Philippines.
An ongoing signature campaign widely recognized and supported by the majority of the 51,051 members in different Filipino communities here is paving the way for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to band together in protest. With the help of the religious sector, information and encouragement on the issue are also disseminated to churchgoers.
Regardless of gender, religion and visa status, OFWs are currently calling for immediate revision of the agreement and its planned transfer of the NPS lump-sum refund to SSS. Workers are worried about the vested interests of some allegedly greedy public officials in the Philippines, whom they fear will use their money for anomalies, unscrupulous plans and personal interest.
OFWs, owners of the NPS Lump-sum Refund benefits, feel they have been inadequately consulted by the SSS and the Korean officials on this Bilateral Agreement.
Article III - Bill of Rights, Section 7 of the Philippine Constitution states that "The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions... shall be afforded the citizen…"
The procedure in the formulation of the Bilateral Agreement clearly violated our constitutional rights, resulting in the loss of workers’ small business opportunities upon return, unfair compulsory coverage in the NPS-SSS social security agreement, and the vulnerability of our refund to corruption at home.
All these have triggered the EPS workers, led by the Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA), to launch a massive campaign for social awareness and participation by all OFWs.
The Filipino Employment Permit System Workers Association (FEWA) and SULYAPINOY spearheaded the signature campaign, supported by the Hyehwadong Filipino Catholic Community (HFCC) led by its chaplain Fr. Alvin Parantar, MSP;
the Kasan Migrant Workers Community (KMWC); Changhyun Filipino Catholic Community; Human Rights Welfare Organization Filipino Community (HRWOFC); Ansan Filipino Catholic Community (AFCC); Philippine Migrant Workers Association in South Korea (PMWAK); Filipino communities in Busan and other parts of South Korea.
The SULYAPINOY website’s current online signature campaign has demonstrated the online participation of other workers, who cannot sign the petition letter in person. They number an unprecedented 1095 at this writing.
With support from Philippine radio program like DZME, the issue has reached the Philippine Senate through the office of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, Chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Our campaign program against the NPS-SSS social security agreement continues to empower all concerned workers with the necessary information. We strongly believe that justice should be served for the general welfare of all OFWs, to foster solidarity among Filipino communities and awareness on issues concerning Filipino migrant workers all over the Korean peninsula.
Our struggles are for our families in the Philippines who have been making great sacrifices due to our migration. They keep on praying while waiting for our return, hoping against hope that our end-of-contract refund-resources would be sufficient to rebuild the broken pieces of our lives under social injustice, poverty and unemployment in our own country.

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