Hello and welcome to the details of Filipinos in Middle East react to new Philhealth scheme and now with the details
Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
The counter unceasingly flipped as numbers continually rose and as of 1:57 p.m. on Sunday, a total of 129,545 Filipinos at least in the UAE and in another Gulf country had petitioned against the mandatory three per cent of their monthly salary to fund Manila’s Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).
Established in 1995 and attached to the Philippines’s Department of Health, Philhealth is a tax-exempt government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) responsible for the universal health coverage of all Filipinos all over the world.
The furore of overseas Filipinos (OFs) in the Middle East against the new Philhealth regulation is manifested through an Avaas petition passed on to Gulf Today late on Saturday afternoon.
By 8:55 p.m. it had gathered 49,979 signatures. It was on Friday evening when a Dubai-based publication reported on the immediate implementation of the new regulation.
Heavy Facebook users, Filipinos began lambasting Philhealth on Friday evening. They accused the GOCC of being insensitive to the OFs’ plight amidst the various forms of economic setbacks such as job cuts and no work-no pay scheme resulting from the disastrous COVID19.
On Sunday dawn, this reporter read a Facebook shoutout by a certain Golan who poured out his angst, citing no money for food and shelter. He ended with the graphic “Do not make us your milking cows!”
On Saturday afternoon, Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes refreshed the Philippine Press WhatsApp Group on the nature of the new Philhealth regulation.
It is a result of the landmark Universal Healthcare Law which President Duterte signed in late 2019 not only to re-energise the ailing healthcare system of the Southeast Asian state.
More importantly, with increasing premiums until about 2025 from all Philhealth members in the Philippines and overseas for much better health services coverage, core is the essence of social responsibility – that even those in the lower spectrum of the society would be given access to “preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care” through all the “medical, dental, mental and emergency health services.”
Filipino community leader Joseph Timothy Rivera volunteered through his You Tube that his countrymen in another Gulf state have also been up in arms against Philhealth. Rivera was able to talk online with a Philhealth officer in Manila who not only explained to him the crux of the new Universal Healthcare Law but encouraged him as well to liaise with members of the bicameral Philippine legislature for possible amendments.
Over in Sharjah, after comprehending the news links and the You Tube, Filipinos said they are complying, taking into account the social component of reaching out and helping those more in need.
Alex Cruz, Ben Fallorina and Nadine Cepria signed the petition too for amendments and reconsiderations.
Cruz admitted that his hypertension was triggered and was “disappointed” initially: “But Romans 13 commands us to submit to authorities ‘Pay to all what is owed to them, taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed and (Philhealth to whom Philhealth is owed).’ I will comply because it is already a law. God’s commandment is not burdensome.
“For the benefits, it is better to give than to receive. I am voicing out my disagreement on the fairness and unfairness of the contribution schemes. I do not think I am disobeying the law. Rather, I am exercising my constitutional right to freedom of speech.”
Fallorina said: “We need to comply yet we need to exercise our constitutional right in a peaceful manner.”
Cepria said: “I guess our government meant well. We will also have benefits and if good governance continues. But during these times, it is very off.”
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