Pinoys in Portugal to enjoy RP social security benefits

Filipinos in Portugal will soon be able to receive their Philippine social security benefits there after the two countries finalized a social security agreement late last month. The Philippine Embassy in Lisbon reported the success of the negotiations between the Philippines and Portugal, resulting in the RP-Portugal Social Security Agreement finalized in Lisbon on May 28, according to a release posted on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The draft agreement, according to the release, provides for the coordination of social security laws between the two countries, particularly those having to do with equal treatment, maintenance of acquired rights, transfer of benefits and cooperation between pertinent institutions in the two countries. It also covers laws of both countries on social protection relating to sickness and maternity, paternity and adoption, invalidity, old age and death, accidents at work and occupational diseases, among others. The first round of negotiations was held in October 2009, and the agreement is expected to be signed in Manila in September 2010, the release further stated. Ambassador Teresita V.G. Barsana headed the Philippine delegation at the second round of negotiations. Social Security System (SSS) Commissioner Jose Sonny G. Matula, SSS Senior Vice President Judy Frances A. See and Roberto B. Bautista meanwhile provided the technical expertise at the negotiations. Representatives of the SSS also took the opportunity to brief the Filipino community in Lisbon on the SSS Flexi-fund for overseas workers, as well as the future benefits of the agreement. The SSS Flexi-fund is a provident fund for overseas Filipino workers with flexible payment terms, an additional service apart from the regular SSS membership of OFWs. The briefing was held at the Philippine Embassy in Portugal which recently re-opened after 35 years. Records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration show there are over 90 registered OFWs in the western European country as of 2009. As of December 2008 meanwhile, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas has recorded over 4,300 Filipinos in Portugal, including permanent and irregular residents. The Philippines has signed social security agreements with other EU countries including Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, the DFA said. For Portugal, the agreement with the Philippines will be its first with an Asian country.—JMA/JV, GMANews.TV (Read more on GMA News and Yahoo! Philippines News)

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