Pag-IBIG Membership Mandatory for OFWs, Required for OEC Issuance
The signing of Republic Act 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009 expands the mandatory coverage of Pag-IBIG Fund. Now, overseas Filipino workers and other individuals employed by foreign-based companies are required to register with the Fund as member.
“With the expansion of membership coverage, we are able to extend to all OFWs the same opportunities granted only to Pag-IBIG members – to save for their family’s needs in the future and to acquire their own homes in the country. Pag-IBIG benefits include housing, provident savings and short-term loans,” said Atty. Darlene Marie B. Berberabe, Pag-IBIG Chief Executive Officer.
This development necessitated the signing of a collection agreement between the Fund and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), which provides OFWs departing from the Philippines a more convenient registration system, and an accessible and affordable remittance facility.
Under the agreement, the POEA shall collect Pag-IBIG membership contributions from OFWs leaving for abroad through its ePayment system, and this will form part of the pre-requisites for the issuance of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). POEA shall accept the minimum contribution of P100 from departing OFWs without charging service fees. OFWs, however, may choose to contribute more than this amount.
The arrangement was previously implemented. However, it had to be suspended following calls from certain stakeholders, which necessitated the conduct of consultations, as well as of a more intensive information dissemination campaign on the agreement.
Effective July 2011, the Pag-IBIG Fund Desk in Singapore will resume implementing the agreement. Filipinos overseas can register at any Pag-IBIG Fund Desk or accredited collecting banks, or online through website, www.pagibigfund.gov.ph.
The Pag-IBIG Fund is a convenient savings system for the ordinary Filipino workers. Monthly contributions to the Fund earn annual dividends which are credited to the member’s account. These savings are tax-free and government guaranteed, and shall remain in the member’s name even if the member transfers employment or get unemployed.
Just recently, the Fund provided economic relief to OFW-members who were repatriated from conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa like Libya in the form of early withdrawal of their total accumulated savings or grant of a six-month moratorium on Multi-Purpose Loan or housing loan payments. Similarly, members who fled Japan at the height of the tsunami tragedy and radiation leak may avail of Multi-Purpose Loans from the Fund.
A number of banks/agents and remittance companies located in key cities abroad have been accredited by the Pag-IBIG Fund to give OFW-members easier access to remittance facilities.