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Check out this Tagalog version of the article.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) sacrifice a lot in order to give the families they left behind in the Philippines a better life. Thus, it is important that their hard-earned money is put to good use. One of the ways OFWs do this is by becoming a member of Pag-IBIG, a savings program managed by the national government.

Before the Pag-IBIG Fund Law of 2009 was introduced, OFWs were not required to register as a Pag-IBIG member. Those who wanted to join applied voluntarily through the Pag-IBIG Overseas Program (POP). This program was initiated to give OFWs an opportunity to save for their future as well as to provide them a chance to avail of housing loans.

But with the new law requiring OFWs to become a member of the Pag-IBIG Fund, how will it affect the membership of OFWs who applied under POP or the current Pag-IBIG Fund? What will happen to the contributions under POP? Will it be combined with the OFWs current savings?

Here are some of the things OFWs need to know about RA 9679:

1. Republic Act 9679 of the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009

Known as the Pag-IBIG Fund Law of 2009, this aims to improve the Filipino quality of life by offering housing assistance for every member. Moreover, it also provides a national savings scheme that gives an opportunity for local employees and OFWs to set aside money for the future.

Once a member completes the 240 monthly contributions, or the 20 year maturity period, he or she would get the entire amount saved, the equivalent contributions made by the employer (if there are any), and the dividends gained.

2. POP Membership vs. Pag-IBIG I (RA 9679)

The Pag-IBIG Overseas Program was a voluntary savings option for Filipinos working abroad. But when RA 9697 was enacted last January 2010, it became mandatory for land-based and sea-based OFWs to become a member under the Pag-IBIG I program. This is to give all Filipino workers, whether located here or in another country, an equal chance to save money for the future as well as to attain their dream of becoming homeowners.

However, this remains voluntary for immigrants and for those naturalized in other countries.

3. Applying as a Member

Every OFW is required to enroll before they leave the country or before they return from their stint abroad. Nonetheless, even if you are already a POP member, you have to register under the Pag-IBIG I program. Those who are still overseas may apply for Pag-IBIG posts in their host countries.

For those abroad, OFWs may visit the Pag-IBIG Information Desk that is located in the Philippine Embassy or Consular office in the country where they are working. They need to submit the filled out Membership Registration Form (MRF-FPF095) or the Member’s Data Form (MDF-FPF0909). These forms are also available for download in the Pag-IBIG website.

For those who are waiting to be deployed abroad, they may register at any Pag-IBIG branch or in the satellite office found in the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) headquarters in Mandaluyong City. OFWs may also go to the Pag-IBIG Fund International Operations Group, which is located in the 6th floor of Justine Bldg. in Makati City. There are also selected banks and remittance centers acknowledge by PAG-IBIG including the Metrobank, Philippine National Bank, and iRemit Global Remittances Inc.

Aside from registration, existing members should also update their record, particularly when there are changes in their personal information.

4. Membership Contribution

According to Pag-IBIG, the minimum contribution of a member is Php100. But if you are planning to get a housing loan in the future, your minimum contribution should be Php200. The value applied is based on the prevailing peso equivalent at the time of the payment.

All payments are shouldered by the OFW because there is no employer counterpart for them, unless the foreign employer offers to contribute.

In the event that OFWs want to allocate a larger contribution, they may do so. Pag-IBIG is encouraging its members to contribute more so that when their contributions reach maturity, which is after 20 years, their savings would be larger, in addition to the tax-free dividends.

To pay the contributions, OFWs may visit the Pag-IBIG office located in the embassy or consular office in the host country as well as accredited banks and remittance partners. Check out the different ways to pay contribution and housing and loan payments. Or visit Pag-IBIG’s website for a comprehensive guide on their payment facilities and the list of accredited banks and remittance partners.

How about for those who have been contributing for POP?

Because POP and Pag-IBIG are two different programs, contributions to the first will not be combined with the latter. POP members are encouraged to continue contributing to POP until it reaches the maturity period where they can then withdraw their funds.

Benefits of being a Pag-IBIG member

There are many benefits when one becomes a Pag-IBIG member. This helps you have savings and an opportunity to avail of short-term loans. But perhaps the most important program benefit of Pag-IBIG, if not the most popular, is its affordable housing loan assistance. When people plan to buy their dream home, they would immediately inquire how to apply for a Pag-IBIG housing loan.

What are your experiences as an OFW regarding Pag-IBIG Fund? Share us your thought by commenting below.

(Image source: www.manilareviews.com)

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