MANILA, Philippines—The International Labour Organization (ILO) head in the Philippines hopes that the next administration would focus on creating policies that will strengthen domestic employment in the country, so that overseas work will no longer be a necessity, but not an option.
ILO director Linda Wirth, who will retire this month, told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak that president-apparent Benigno Aquino III should complement “policy and strategy” in creating jobs for 2.8 million of unemployed Filipinos.
“Although the Philippines is good at sending and receiving OFWs. The next president should give a high level of attention on not just how many jobs are needed, but also how to create these jobs”. She added that economic growth in a country should be translated to quality employment.
ILO, a United Nations agency, monitors international labor standards and promotes decent work. Wirth said that the next Cabinet members should work together to generate jobs, and ensure positive atmosphere for the private sector that usually provides most of the job opportunities.
Gates Foundation support
At a press briefing Wednesday, Wirth announced that the ILO, with the support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had awarded the Philippines P5 million to expand a program that encourages families of overseas workers to save. There are about 2 million OFWs as of 2009.
Wirth said that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation chose to support the OFWs savings and wellness program because of its advocacy of promoting micro-insurance innovations.
Pioneer Life Inc., an insurance company in the country that would oversee the savings program, said that migrant workers may now be spared from the burden of carving out cash from their savings when a family member gets sick or dies.
The OFW Savers and Wellness Club program involves 2 aspects: financial literacy sessions and micro-insurance program.
Pioneer tied up with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines since it has a network through its dioceses. CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants has been active in gathering OFWs and their families for counseling and reintegration even before the micro-insurance project was launched.
The CBCP-ECMI, with its parish leaders, is tasked to maintain clubs for 250,000 OFW families in selected provinces in Luzon and Metro Manila. Regions where most of the OFW families live are in the Calabarzon and Metro Manila.
Start with P200
According to Pioneer Life president Lorenzo Chan, they will use the grant for the expenses in going to the communities and for the activities involved in the financial wellness seminars.
Pioneer field team will go to community clubs to conduct financial wellness sessions. The session involves Pioneer representatives explaining to the families the value of saving and the best way to save. They introduce their micro-insurance product that only requires them at least P200 deposit.
The product targets children of OFWs, who can deposit a minimum of P200 for an account. An adult dependent may join by depositing at least P300.
The saving program has a higher interest rate of 3% or 4%.
A dependents, in case of a member’s death, may receive P5,000 to P100,000 burial cash assistance and accidental death insurance. Members who get into an accident will receive P75,000 dismemberment assistance.
Child members can reimburse up to P 75,000 for the medical expenses in case of accidents.
Pioneer senior vice president of business development Ferdinand Berba estimated that in 2004 about 42% of the savings of Filipino OFWs went to emergencies. Berba said OFWs save for emergencies, but not for a long-term investments that could sustain them when they return to the Philippines for good.
In the 2010 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas survey on consumer expectations, more than half of the 556 respondents said that the remittances they receive usually go to medication or hospital expenses.
Although it’s the first time that Pioneer received funding from outside sources, it already spent some P3 million for the OFW Savers and Wellness Club in 2009. It was first introduced in 6 dioceses and had registered 900 members. (abs-cbnNews,com/Newsbreak)