MAJORITY or nearly 70 percent of 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) do not have any insurance coverage making them “highly vulnerable to various known risks and perils in their host countries,” according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

This despite the passage of Republic Act (RA) 10022 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act” in 2010 mandating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to be insured.

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said only 32 percent of the total OFW population have insurance coverage, following the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) for RA 10022, which focused on agency-hired OFWs.

Concerned by the large number of uninsured OFWs amid the pandemic, Bello issued last Wednesday Department Order (DO) 228, which temporarily expanded the compulsory insurance coverage to include rehires and directly hired OFWs.

“This order seeks to forthwith extend, expand and strengthen this indispensable mantle of protection to all OFWs during this current global health emergency crisis at no cost to the worker, and also other migrant work based abroad under a residency status granted by the host country,” Bello said in the new issuance.

DO 228 will remain in effect for the period of the “current public health emergency” caused by the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and the threats of other emerging infectious diseases as well as the period of full implementation of the national government’s vaccination program.

The duration cited in the order may be extended if DOLE deems it necessary, according to Bello.

Under DO 228, recruitment and manning agencies will still be required to shoulder the compulsory insurance for agency-hired workers.

For rehires, direct hires and name hires, Bello said their insurance coverage must be borne by their employers or initially by the OFWs themselves, subject to a complete refund from their principal upon their arrival in the country of their destination.

The said recruitment and manning agencies as well as foreign employers are authorized to offer an expanded insurance coverage beyond what is required under RA 10022 provided it is approved by the Insurance Commission (IC) and subject to the concurrence of the OFW beneficiaries.

Only “reputable” private Insurance companies registered and accredited by the IC shall be qualified to provide compulsory insurance coverage to OFWs.

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