President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) on Monday to no longer require overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to pay 3 percent of their salaries as premiums, following protests online.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque announced Duterte’s directive in a virtual news briefing, stating that the payment would instead be made voluntary.

“Sa ngayon po, habang meron tayong krisis, ang naging desisyon ng Presidente ay wag na munang magpataw ng karagdagang pahirap sa ating mga OFWs, lalong lalo na sa panahon na napakadami sa kanila ang nare-repatriate at nawalan na rin ng trabaho,” he said.

The payment of the premium will also not be a requirement for the issuance of necessary papers, such as overseas employment certificates.

PhilHealth Circular No. 2020-0014, signed on April 2, required OFWs with salaries between P10,000 to P60,000 to pay the premium contribution, with an initial payment of P2,400.

Almost 400,000 have signed an online petition against the policy on, which labeled it an “abuse to migrant workers.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro