No to NPS-SSS Social Security Agreement

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    OFWs of South Korea
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Petition Against the NPS-SSS Social Security Agreement

(Signatures Opposing the NPS-SSS Social Security Agreement)

A Signature Campaign spearheaded by the Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA) and all the Filipino organizations in South Korea asking the Philippine Senate to reject the NPS-SSS Social Security agreement between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea which terminates the immediate grant of the Lump-sum Refund benefits after the period of sojourn of all Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs) in South Korea based from their monthly contribution under the National Pension Scheme (NPS).


Dear Senators:

Warm Greetings from Filipino Overseas Workers in South Korea!

We the Filipino EPS Workers Association (FEWA) and all Filipino organizations in South Korea, are spearheading this Signature Campaign to register our very opposition to the Social Security System (SSS) and the National Pension Scheme (NPS) Social Security agreement which terminates the immediate grant of the Lump-sum Refund benefits after the period of sojourn of approximately 33,714 OFWs in South Korea based from their monthly contribution under the National Pension Scheme.

This issue started two-years ago when the Philippines and South Korea signed a bilateral agreement providing for social security protection and benefits to their respective citizens. A ceremony was held on December 16, 2005 at the Ceremonial Hall of Malacaсang Palace, with Secretary Alberto G. Romulo of the Philippine Foreign Affairs, and Minister Ban Ki-Moon of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) signing the agreement.

The said agreement actually did not directly specify the transfer of the NPS Lump-sum Refund to the SSS but the NPS Head Office in Seoul had confirmed to FEWA that once the Bilateral Social Security Agreement is ratified by the Philippine Senate, all OFWs covered by the NPS can no longer avail the immediate Lump-sum Refund benefits currently granted to all OFWs in South Korea through the 'Principle of Reciprocity' after their sojourn period. Instead, they can only avail the Lump-sum Refund at the age of 65 years.

Attached herewith are the copies of the signed and brief explanation of the Bilateral Social Security Agreement and the detailed explanation about the National Pension Scheme (NPS) of South Korea. NPS website can also be found at http://www.nps.or.kr/ for further reference.

We, the undersigned, make our ardent appeal to the Honorable Senators to uphold the rights of the EPS workers who strongly oppose the afore-mentioned SSS plan on the following grounds:

1) Absence of proper consultation to the concerned OFWs. Being the owner of the NPS Lump-sum Refund benefits, the SSS, or the proponents, should have properly consulted all the concerned OFWs in South Korea before the signing of the said Bilateral Agreement. Article lll - Bill of Rights, Section 7 of the Philippine Constitution states "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." Therefore, the procedure undertaken in the formulation of the said agreement clearly violated our constitutional rights.

2) Loss of workers' small business opportunities upon going back home after their sojourn period. The workers' claim in lump-sum of their monthly NPS contribution, after the end of their sojourn, is now impossible since according to NPS-SSS agreement, the lump-sum refund shall be only claimed when an OFW reaches at the age of 65.

The Philippine government should realize how tough is the life of the Filipino migrant worker in South Korea, working in 3D Jobs (Difficult, Dangerous, and Dirty) category, and how important is the NPS contribution Lump-sum Refund for the reestablishment of their economic condition upon returning back home.

Thant money plays a very important role in rebuilding OFWs' respective families together as it will be used to establish any small business opportunities which may prevent them from going back abroad that keeps them away from their love ones with no choice due to lack of jobs in the Philippines.

Furthermore, that money is the only saving that most workers can bring after their contract as they regularly send their monthly income to their respective families in the Philippines. The concerned OFWs cannot wait for 65-years of age in order to get their own money.

3) Compulsory coverage to the NPS-SSS Social Security Agreement is unfair. Each Filipino migrant worker should be given the option whether he wants to be covered by the said Social Security agreement or not. It is very unfair that the said immediate grant of NPS contribution Lump-sum Refund benefits after the OFWs' sojourn period will be mandatorily terminated for the purposes of observing the principle of Social Security.

Just like the Social Security between Canada and Korea and other countries such as US, Germany, Hungary, and France which have also signed the same agreement between Korea, any citizens of the said countries who have worked in South Korea has an option to claim their NPS Lump-sum Refund benefits when they permanently leave Korea after their sojourn period.

In addition, for Filipinos, majority of them may only have a maximum of 3-5 years of sojourn period in South Korea. Under the Social Security rules, insured members should have at least 10-years of NPS contribution period before they could avail the old-pension benefits at the age of 65.

Even applying the 'totalization rule' between the SSS contribution and NPS contribution of OFWs, still the total contribution amount cannot reach the required 10-years NPS contribution amount. Thus, instead of claiming the old-pension benefits at the age of 65, still the Lump-sum Refund shall be claimed similar to the Lump-sum Refund benefits immediately granted after their period of sojourn. In this case, it is very clear that the said agreement will not provide any better benefits to all concerned OFWs.

4) The NPS Lump-sum Refund will be prone to become an object of corruption. The money which is the fruit of workers' years of hard labor can become an easy target for some greedy government officials either in Philippines or in South Korea, particularly in the social security agency. When this happens, the time and effort spent by the OFWs in working and waiting for their well-deserved benefits may just end up into frustration and grief.

In view of the above, we the Filipino Overseas Workers in South Korea, with the support of our fellow migrant workers around the world, our fellow Filipinos in our motherland, our respective families and friends, humbly request our beloved Senators to support our call:

1) To reject the NPS-SSS Social Security agreement and ensure us of the continuing availability of our NPS Lump-sum Refund through the 'Principle of Reciprocity' after our sojourn period.

2) If scrapping of the signed Social Security agreement is impossible, there must be a revision to make the coverage of the agreement optional for us. If any of us do not like to avail the said Social Security instead we would only like to avail our NPS Lump-sum Refund benefits, then we should be immediately granted right after sojourn period.

3) To review the signed Bilateral Social Security Agreement and ensure that our rights as Overseas Filipino Workers in South Korea will be protected fairly under the rule of law.

For the welfare of all Filipino Overseas Workers!


INITIAL SIGNATORIES:

Sofonias Paragsa, President - FEWA
Marcelino M. Serdeсa III, Vice-President - FEWA
Rebenson Recaсa, Executive Adviser - FEWA
Elizer Peсaranda, Editor in Chief - SULYAPINOY Publication
Dondave Jabay, Managing Editor - SULYAPINOY Publication
Edward A. Castro, News Editor - SULYAPINOY Publication
Alden C. Balgos, Board Member - SULYAPINOY Publication
Richard C. Corpuz, Board Member - SULYAPINOY Publication
Felix Ferrer, Photojournalist - SULYAPINOY Publication
Precy Villaveza, Board Member - FEWA
Teofilo Camo, Board Member - FEWA
Ma. Victoria Cardona, Board Member - FEWA
Marvin M. Babasa, Board Member - FEWA
Ismael Calandria, Board Member - FEWA
Fritzalito Sapon, Board Member - FEWA
Jose Tavarro, Board Member - FEWA
Shela Alvarez Balatero, Secretary - FEWA
Cherrylyn Edquilang, Assistant Secretary - FEWA
Ronnie De Guia, Treasurer - FEWA
Ronald Austari, Auditor - FEWA
Deirde Empeso, Committee Chairperson on Women and Gender Issues - FEWA
Loreto Agustin, Committee Chairperson on Physical Abuse and Maltreatment - FEWA
Aquilino Juanites Jr., Committee Chairperson on Wages and Compensation - FEWA
Eduardo Ico Jr., Committee Chairperson on Health and Medical Exigencies - FEWA
Joel Petallana, Committee Chairperson on Spiritual and Moral Affairs - FEWA
Aristotle Benjamin Gamlao, Committee Chairperson on Workers Fellowship - FEWA
Alvin Alqueza, Committee Chairperson on Intercultural Relations - FEWA
Catherine C. Arreola, Committee Chairperson on Funds Raising - FEWA
Rodel Arias, Committee Chairperson on Food Committee - FEWA
Bernard Aque, Committee Chairperson on Public Information Officer - FEWA
Alwyin Casino, Committee Chairperson on Education and Outreach Program - FEWA
Julius Ceasar Ocampo, Committee Chairperson on Sports and Recreations - FEWA
Norman R Matudan, Committee Chairperson on Recruitment - FEWA
Charlie Compra, Committee Chairperson on Security Officer - FEWA
Carlos Odero, Committee Chairperson on Security Officer - FEWA