Dubai: A last-minute dash to the deadline of an "amnesty" offered by the Social Security System (SSS) for delinquent borrowers has seen long queues among applicants.
More than 250,000 members of the state-run pension fund, many of them overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), are expected to benefit from the loan restructuring programme (LRP), which waives penalties and fines for members who did not pay on time.
For September alone, more than 500 delinquent SSS members in Dubai had availed of the amnesty, according to Mark Roue Oliva, SSS Representative in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
One of them is Joan Orallo, a Filipina hotel staff in Dubai, who borrowed 12,000 pesos (Dh820) in 2012 from the state-own fund while working in Manila.
Since she moved to Dubai, Orallo neglected payments. Now, her 12,000-peso loan had ballooned to 30,000 pesos (Dh2,052), including interest and penalties.
A huge chunk of her penalties had been waived, thanks to the six-month "amnesty" — which ends on October 1, 2018.
"I made good use of that money, so it's just right that I pay it back," said Orallo, 29, who now works for a Dubai hotel as human resources coordinator.
The state pension fund offers not only retirement and maternity benefits, but also salary, housing, education and calamity loans to members.
Mary Ann Regatuna, 38, took out a 5,000-peso (about Dh342) loan from SSS in December 2004.
In March 2005, she paid the first monthly installment of 318 pesos. Two months later, in May 2005, she flew to the UAE, where she started working as a cashier for a retailer network.
She hadn't paid her loan since.
|Joan Orallo, 29||Mary Ann Regatuna, 38|
|Loan amount: Php12,000||Loan amount: Php5,000|
|Years of non-payment: 6 years||Years of non-payment: 14 years|
|Penalties waived: Php8,424||Penalties waived: Php16,209|
"I borrowed from SSS as a me-too kind of thing," said Regatuna, from Cagayan de Oro. "But since I left for the UAE, I didn't know how to pay it from here. I also became inactive with my SSS payments."
After a 13-year delinquency, Regatuna is saving 16,209 pesos in waived penalties.
Orallo and Regatuna are the poster girls for the latest loan restructuring scheme offered by the fund.
"I'm thankful for this program, and the payment terms are much easier," said Orallo. "Parang nabunutan ako ng tinik (It's like a fishbone was taken off my throat)," said Regatuna.
Just a quick clarification: the six-month grace period covers condonation of penalties for those who are delinquent in their loan payments.
The SSS official appealed to members who have outstanding loans to avoid waiting for the last minute.
Here's our guide on this amnesty for delinquent SSS borrowers.
(Disclaimer: This is just a general guide on the 2018 Loan Restructuring Program. For specific questions, please check with the SSS representative or branch near you.)
1. What is SSS Loan Restructuring Programme?
The SSS Loan Restructuring Program (LRP) is aimed to rope in delinquent member-borrowers to regularise their status with the pension fund by settling unpaid loans, without the added pain of high interest.
2. Why is the SSS offering this now?
It's not the first time the SSS has offered such restructing to delinquent members. The goal of this six-month leniency period is to help borrowers and allow them to regularise their status with the fund, explained Mark Roue N. Oliva, SSS representative in Dubai.
The are some who were not able to avail themselves of the LRP last time. And there are new members who were affected by calamities — like the Marawi and Zamboanga siege, the latest would be the victims of Mayon Volcano eruption and flooding in Manila and Central Luzon.
These are some of the reasons considered by the SSS board in offering the latest amnesty for delinquencies.
3. How does LRP work? Can I pay in installments?
Yes. The LRP allows member-borrowers to settle their overdue loan principal and interest in full by installment — but with a restricted term — depending on the member's capacity to pay.
Both payment schemes shall waive loan penalties after a member has completed the restructured loan.
4. How long is a payment period?
It depends on the loan amount. If it's 18,000 pesos or below, you can pay it within one year. For a maximum of 72,000 pesos in restructured loan, SSS allows a repayment period of up to five years (60 months).
5. How much is expected from this loan penalties condonation programme?
The 2018 LRP is expected to generate Php1.2 billion, while condoning some Php2.85 billion in penalties, according to SSS President and CEO Emmanuel F. Dooc. Around 250,000 members are expected to benefit from the LRP.
6. How do I qualify? What loans are covered?
According to the SSS, "the program covers all member-borrowers who have past-due loans like the salary loan, emergency loan, (old) educational plan, study-now-pay-later plan, voc-tech loans, Y2K loans and investment incentive loan."
To qualify, the delinquent member-borrower should be residing or working as of date of the disaster in a calamity or disaster-stricken area as declared by the Naitonal Disaster Risk REduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
7. How fast can I get the LRP application done?
According to Orallo, SSS has simplified the process. "I walked into their office at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. I filled up some forms. It was processed in less than one hour. The compulation and processing were all done online."
8. Is there an online loan restructuring form I need to fill up?
Yes. Download it here.
9. Where can I apply for this SSS loan restructuring?
Check with the right staff at the SSS branch you visit. If you're in Dubai or the Northern Emirates, better send an email first via firstname.lastname@example.org with your details (name, SSS number, loan amount) to know the requirements in applying for this LRP.