Philippine Vice-President Jejomar Binay assured the families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) living in areas under a state of calamity for a loan assistance thru the Home Development Mutual Fund’s (HDMF or Pag-IBIG Fund).

“OFW active PAG-IBIG Fund members with a minimum of 24 month contribution who resides in areas under a state of calamity may avail of calamity loan, said Vice-President Binay in a press statement Wednesday.

Qualified Pag-IBIG members may apply for loans within 90 days of the declaration of state of calamity in their area, and under the said loan members are entitled to borrow up to 80 percent of their total contributions to be paid in two years.

Vice-President Binay, who is also the presidential adviser on OFWs concern, said that interest rates for calamity loans have been reduced by almost 50 percent.

“Mula sa dating interest na 10.75 percent, binaba namin ito sa 5.95 percent. Ang loan ay may grace period na tatlong buwan kung kaya’t ang amortisasyon ay babayaran lamang po sa ikaapat na buwan pagkaapruba ng loan.”

To avail the loan, OFWs who are currently at work overseas may authorize a representative to submit required papers in Pag-IBIG branches where their contributions are remitted.

The representatives will have to present a Special Power of Attorney duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy in the OFW’s host country and two valid identification cards (IDs).

The OFW or his family/relatives may apply at PAG-IBIG branch where he or she is remitting the contributions.

Meanwhile OFW rights group Migrante –Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona lauded the government efforts, saying : “We, OFWs and our dependents, appreciate the PAG-IBIG move to allow our kin in the Philippines to apply for a calamity loan. The lowered interest rate is also a timely aid especially to OFW kin whose houses and properties have been flooded.”

Accordingly around 200,000 OFW families were affected by floods due to monsoon rains that hit Metro Manila and nearby provinces like Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, and in Northern Luzon last week.

The group however continues to call upon Pres. Benigno Aquino III to mobilize the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in reimplementing the defunct OWWA general financial assistance program or GFAP, a quick economic relief in a form of cash to OFW families during calamities.

GFAP was stopped, among other programs and services, when OWWA implemented the OWWA Omnibus Policies on 2004 during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

“OFWs trust fund, held in trust to the government care of OWWA, is estimated to have reached P13-B, pooled from individual OFW membership fee of US$25, “ Monterona said.

The group added that government must increase its budget allocated for OFWs direct services and programs.

“Only US$2 or .08 percent of the US$25 OFW membership fee is spent for OFWs direct services and programs…this allocation is a pittance, a reflection on how meager the government’s programs and services to OFWs and their dependents.”

Source: PIA