Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Monday urged his colleagues to pass the bill providing P50,000 credit assistance to overseas Filipino workers.
Angara said a similar bill has already been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives, which is set to approve it on third and final reading this week.
“I commend the members of the House for their favorable action on the bill which I have been filing since my days in Congress,” the former Aurora representative said in a statement.
“I am hopeful that our version will receive the same support here in the Senate to address the needs of our modern heroes,” he added.
Under the Angara-authored Senate Bill 1955, a credit assistance program will be created for OFWs to help them pay their recruitment fees and other costs incurred during pre-employment, and to defray the living expenses of their families left behind.
An OFW, with a valid employment contract, may avail of a P50,000 loan from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to defray living expenses of one’s family during the first months of absence, and to pay for recruitment expenses including placement fees, documentation costs and plane tickets.
The loan will be entered into by and between the OFW-borrower and OWWA, with the next-of-kin as a co-borrower.
“This credit facility is but another venue for government to support OFWs for sending in much-needed foreign remittances that help maintain the country’s macroeconomic stability,” said Angara, who is the acting chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.
The loan shall be paid in 12 equal monthly installments at a preferred interest rate not to exceed six percent per annum through accredited banking institutions.
“We have a duty to provide as much assistance as we can to OFWs for their immense contribution to the nation,” Angara said.
Under the bill, failure to pay the loan shall be sufficient ground for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to withhold the issuance of the overseas employment certificate (OEC) and any other exit permit or clearance to work abroad to the OFW-borrower.
It further states that any government official or private entity who issues an OEC or exit permit to any OFW-borrower who has failed to pay the loan will be penalized with a 60-day suspension for the first offense, and dismissal from the service and permanent cancellation of license for the second offense.
(Source: KBK, GMA News)