Reinforced social protection

Social protection that remains inaccessible and inequitable for many Filipino migrant workers needs to be strengthened, the National Economic Development Authority recently said during a webinar hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce.

NEDA Social Development Officer Edgardo Aranjuez said it was important to protect the rights, promote well-being and expand opportunities for overseas Filipino workers, given their significant economic contribution.

“We have the social protection system in place, but the programs that come out of it seem inadequate or inequitable, so it needs to be strengthened and improved,” Aranjuez said.

While the government has programs under the social security system, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Pag-IBIG, among others, not all OFWs can benefit while others are still inaccessible.

NEDA defines social protection as policies and programs that aim to reduce poverty and vulnerability to risk and improve the social status and rights of marginalized people. This is done by promoting and protecting livelihoods and employment, protecting against hazards and sudden loss of income, and improving people’s ability to manage risk.

The pandemic has sadly exposed the lack of social protection among the country’s 10.4 million OFWs and many Filipinos in general, leading to economic shocks.

The Philippines has deployed an average of 1.8 million OFWs per year since 2009. This number has fallen to just over 500,000 in 2020 due to the shrinking global economy, uncertainty and security restrictions. mobility imposed at the height of the pandemic. This figure has increased to just over 700,000 in 2021, but remains far from pre-pandemic levels of OFW deployment.

The pandemic has contributed to rising unemployment and dampened remittances.

Many social protection programs already exist but are simply inaccessible because OFWs have never needed them. The impact of the pandemic has simply highlighted the need to strengthen these essential programs that should be available to all Filipinos, regardless of the state of the global or local economy.*

Joel C. Hicks