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PROPOSAL FOR THE AUTOMATIC RENEWAL OF OWWA MEMBERSHIP
By:KASAPI Congress of Jeddah, KSA
(A Concept Paper Presented to VP Jejomar Binay)
Upon initial deployment, an OFW is required to pay US$25 as his OWWA membership fee. Since the initial contract normally lasts for 2 years, the OWWA membership is also good for 2 years, after which, the OFW must pay another US$25 to renew his OWWA membership and be eligible to receive whatever assistance he may need, particularly in times of emergency;
In a number of instances, some OFWs find it more rewarding to extend their contracts upon completion of the initial 2-year contract and, for a variety of reasons, fail to renew their membership in the OWWA such that when calamity struck, they find themselves unable to avail of any assistance from the said agency because their memberships had expired;
The sector made up of domestic household service workers is the most vulnerable to sudden shifts in the political landscape, yet it is this sector that has the most number of OWWA members who - by the nature of their work - could not spare a couple of hours to go to a consular office to renew their membership; and
As the lifeline of the OFW, especially in times of calamities, continuity of OWWA membership is of paramount importance.
To address the issues mentioned above, we have come up with the following:
It is hereby proposed that membership in the OWWA be made automatic for those who, for whatever reason, were not able to renew their membership while deployed abroad.
This can be done by charging an OFW the amount of US$25 (in the form of a loan) for every 2 years that he has not come forward to renew his OWWA membership. If the agency could provide business or livelihood loans amounting to hundreds of thousand pesos or more, there is no reason why it could not give a loan of US$25 every 2 years to an OWF who missed paying his membership renewal.
When the OFW visits the Consulate either for passport renewal or to request for an OEC;
At the airport prior to his/her departure; and
Mobile payment - making use of the various remittance service centers, or an organization to be formed by OFWs exclusively for the purpose.
Granting that the OFW who was provided with an automatic loan for his OWWA membership renewal decides to stay in the Philippines for good without settling his obligations, the OWWA can still collect payment by sending text messages, demand letters or by sending collectors. However, the chances are slim that an OFW will renege on his OWWA loan obligation. Sooner or later, he would develop an itch to go abroad again.
To ensure that an OFW fully understands his duties & obligations and the benefits that he can derive by being an OWWA member, it is also hereby proposed that this program (if it would be accepted) be made a part of and explained in the PDOS (Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar).
While this draft proposal may be considered crude in form (having been prepared by non-lawyers) it is hoped that the substance and the message it conveys will merit the consideration of the authorities concerned.
KASAPI Congress of Jeddah, KSA