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PhilHealth opens office in Riyadh

By RODOLFO ESTIMO JR. | ARAB NEWS

RIYADH: Philippine Health Insurance Corporation President and CEO Rey B. Aquino and representatives from Enjaz and Development Bank of Philippines (DBP) signed Friday night a manifesto during the launching of the first PhilHealth office in the Middle East at the Riyadh Palace Hotel.

Amanat Ali, Enjaz correspondent banks’ manager, represented Sami Al-Rajhi, head of Enjaz Network Group, while Abdullah “Johnny” P. Gacuan represented DBP.

“The manifesto is in support of PhilHealth’s campaign to serve Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom by looking after their health insurance needs as well as those of their beneficiaries,” Aquino said.

PhilHealth’s OFW members will exclusively remit their memberships dues to the Philippines through DBP-Enjaz. PhilHealth is the government corporation administering the national health program of the Philippines. Addressing the crowd during the event, Aquino said that recent reports showed that Saudi Arabia again topped the list of land-based OFW destinations, and the increase in the number of deployments in this country went up by 11.7 percent in 2009 compared to 2008.

“Almost a million OFWs were deployed in Saudi Arabia last year in the skilled category. With this trend in OFW deployment, it is imperative that we educate our OFWs about their health insurance benefits so that they will have peace of mind while they toil in this oil-rich Middle Eastern country,” Aquino said.

Aquino added that PhilHealth can assist on questions regarding membership amendments and  member data records.

He also said that PhilHealth  can also accept claims and will distribute fliers to drum up interest among OFWs in the Kingdom and neighboring countries regarding their health insurance needs.

“Eventually, our desk will receive premium payment amounting to SR81 per year. Note that OFW members are paying less compared to what other members in the other paying categories remit,” he said.

“We recognize the fact that OFW remittances made through banks for the first quarter of this year reached $4.3 billion, a major bulk of which came from the Middle East. This implies that there’s a strong demand for Filipino skills in almost every major industry in the Middle East and this demand translates to better opportunities for our skilled workers and to our economy as well.”

He thanked Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor, outgoing Labor Attache Rustico dela Fuente (to be cross-posted to Brussels, Belgium) and incoming Labor Attache Albert Valenciano for their help in the launching of PhilHealth’s office in Riyadh.

Earlier, PhilHealth offices were also established in Hong Kong and Macau. Another office will also be set up in Singapore soon.

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