Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Contributions by all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) enrolled or planning to enrol at the Philippines’ Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) or PagIBIG Fund, is up from Php100 to Php200 a month, equivalent to Php2,400 a year, beginning February 2024.
For over 600,000 Filipinos in the UAE, 70,273 of which are “active” members, based on the December 2023 data of the government-owned-and-controlled corporation (GOCC), that means Dhs13.14 a month or Dhs157.67 annually from the Dhs6.57 a month or Dhs78.83 a year for their PagIBIG Fund Regular Savings Plan.
Established on June 11, 1978 in accordance with the signing of Presidential Decree 1530 by then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who saw the need for Filipinos to save and acquire their own affordable dwellings, the OFWs’ mandatory membership took effect on January 2010, a result of the revision of the HMDF Law in 2009.
From the December 2023 records, PagIBIG Fund members all over the world were at 15,928,316. Nearly 10 per cent or 1,483,593 were OFWs. Of these, 187,854 were from the Middle East.
PagIBIG Fund chief executive officer Mariline C. Acosta was email interviewed, following the January 17 announcement over Philippine-based media of the members’ contribution hike: “The increase in the monthly contributions is only for the PagIBIG Regular Savings. However, members may opt to top up their monthly contributions for them to further grow their savings.”
On whether the raise also applies to the Modified Payroll Savings Programme (MP2) introduced in 2011 to heighten financial literacy, and which could be withdrawn with dividends after five years, she said: “The MP2 Savings, being voluntary in nature, will not be affected by the increase in monthly savings rates. The minimum savings under the MP2 Programme will remain at Php500 (Dhs32.85).”
Acosta said it was in 2019 when the PagIBIG Fund Board of Trustees approved the members’ new monthly contribution rates effective 2021: “That was after obtaining the concurrence of stakeholders which included labour groups, the business community and OFW groups. We conducted Focus Group Discussions (with the assistance of the then Philippine Overseas Labour Offices, now Migrant Workers Offices) in various countries to ensure that the policies and the monthly savings rates for OFWs are fair and acceptable.”
“At that time, as average growth in housing loan releases over the past five years was at 17.5 per cent and 15 per cent in the last two years, the cash flow mainly sourced from members’ savings in addition to loan repayments and investments would not suffice to cover funding requirements,” she added.
Yet, the global Novel Coronavirus pandemic and its severe economic impact interfered. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) – employees and employers in the Philippines equally share in the members’ contributions — requested for the re-scheduling.
On record, ECOP, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, Federation of Free Workers, including OFW organisations namely the Kapisanan nf mga Kamag-anak at Migranteng Manggagang Pilipino Inc. (KAKAMMPI), Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino Inc. (KAMPI), and the Kaibigan ng mga OCWs (Overseas Contract Workers) had supported the PagIBIG Fund resolution to execute the new monthly rates this February.
Acosta said: “We, at PagIBIG Fund recognise the aspirations of our fellow Filipinos working overseas of providing a better life and future for their families. We assure our OFW members that the increase in the PagIBIG monthly savings rates shall mean better benefits to further help them pursue their dreams.
Under our new rates, members shall have higher PagIBIG Savings that earn annual dividends, which they shall receive upon membership maturity or retirement, as well as higher multi-purpose and calamity loan amounts to help them with their financial needs. This shall also allow us to continue offering affordable home loans and provide them better opportunities to gain a home of their own.”
From the news, KAMPI president Luther Calderon said: “An increase in contributions is definitely a step towards the right direction as this would mean more funds that could be employed for the benefit of members seeking to apply for home loans and short-term loans. Not only is it timely, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do.”