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Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain

March 20, 2012

Mr. President, distinguished colleagues,
I have the honor to seek approval of Senate Resolution No.51 under Committee Report No. 136, entitled: “Resolution Concurring in the Ratification of the Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain.”
Background
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines under Article 22, that, “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality”.
In the same wisdom, it is the State’s mandate, under our Constitution, to “afford full protection to labor – local and overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all.”1 It is in this light that our government has undertaken to successfully negotiate social security agreements since the early 1980s with countries that host a sizeable number of Filipino migrant workers to promote mutual cooperation in the field of social security.
Among the countries that signed the Convention on Social Security with the Philippines are: Austria in 1982, United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Spain, and France in 1989, Canada in 1997, Quebec in 1998, Switzerland and Belgium in 2001. 2.
The main provisions of these Conventions conform with the standards set by the International Labour Organization Convention No. 157 of 1982. It aims at establishing a universal system for the Maintenance of Social Security Rights with respect to persons working or residing outside of their own countries.
The Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain was signed on 12 November 2002 in Manila. It amends and supersedes the original Convention on Social Security between the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain which was signed on 21 May 1988 and came into force on 01 October 1989.
The 2002 Convention guarantees the rights acquired under the 1988 Convention and expands it by seeking to modify some provisions under the original Convention relating to the application of appropriate legislation, rules and exceptions with regard to specific workers; the grant of economic benefits; and the procedures to be followed by the competent institutions of the Philippines and Spain in order to establish the regulatory base of the benefits taking into account their insurance periods. 3
Salient Features of the Convention
The 2002 Convention provides for the following, among other features:
-Equality of Treatment = A covered Filipino, including his or her dependents and survivors, shall be eligible for social security benefits under the same conditions as nationals in Spain. In the spirit of reciprocal arrangements, Spanish nationals shall be eligible for social security benefits under the same conditions as Filipino nationals in the Philippines;
-Export/Continuity of Benefits = A person shall continue to receive social security benefits wherever he or she decides to reside – whether in the Philippines, Spain or even in a third country;
-Totalization of Insurance Periods = Contributions paid or membership periods completed successively or alternately under the social schemes of both countries shall be accumulated to determine both the qualification for benefits and the proportionate allocation in the payment of such benefits;
-Mutual Administrative Assistance = Covered members and their families may file their claims with the designated liaison agencies of the Philippines and Spain, which shall accordingly extend assistance to facilitate processing and disbursement of benefits and other matters;
-Payment of benefits = Each country shall pay a fraction of the benefit due from their respective systems, in proportion to actual contributions or creditable periods of the workers; and
-Inclusion of the Public Sector Workers = The coverage of the Convention now includes public sector workers contributing to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in addition to the coverage of private sector workers contributing to the Social Security System (SSS) relative to economic benefits for: a) Maternity and sickness; b) Retirement; c) Disability; d) Death or survivorship; and e) Work-related injury and occupational illness.
Conclusion
Mr. President,
We must pursue initiatives that will help uplift the lives of our overseas workers and help secure their retirement in the twilight of their years.
With this particular Convention, we will provide a more conducive scheme that will maximize the benefits for 12,638 Filipinos in Spain. And, with the expanding scope of Philippine-Spain relations, this number will continue to grow. The approval, therefore, of this amendatory Convention which has been pending for 10 years now, is imperative.
But we must not stop here, Mr. President. We must actively pursue similar social security agreements with other countries that have compatible social security schemes with the Philippines and home to most number of Filipino workers contributing greatly to our economy.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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[1]Sec. 3, Article XIII, Social Justice and Human Rights – Labor, 1987 Philippine Constitution
[2]GSIS position paper
[3]Instrument of Ratification
[4]DFA Statement on the Social Security Convention with Spain