BERLIN – Negotiations on a Philippine-German bilateral agreement on social security took place at the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (BMAS) in Berlin early this month.
Ambassador Maria Cleofe Natividad opened the expert talks and introduced the Philippine delegation from Manila headed by Philippine Social Security System (SSS) President and CEO Mr. Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr. She spoke of the agreement’s long negotiating history and expressed satisfaction at the timing of the formal negotiations.
“As early as 2002, informal discussions on a social security agreement have begun between our labor ministers. Eleven years later, we are finally on the negotiating table,” noted the Ambassador.
The Philippine delegation discussed with their German counterparts details of social security cooperation – including how the totalization of coverage periods, export of benefits, and mutual administration assistance could potentially benefit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Germany and Germans working in the Philippines.
President De Quiros also gave a presentation on the Philippine social security system, particularly on the “layers of social protection.” This was followed by discussions on the articles of the proposed agreement, and the concluding protocol. Ms. Judy Frances See, SSS Senior Vice President, explained the Philippines’ proposed amendments to the agreement, mainly for the benefit of OFWs.
On the other hand, Mr. Michael Schmidt of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs also gave an overview of the German social security system. The lead negotiator for the German side was Dr. Albrecht Otting also from the same ministry. Officials from the German Federal Pension Insurance, German Pension Insurance for Miners, Railway Workers and Seamen, and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance also joined Dr. Otting’s team.
The Philippine and German delegations expressed satisfaction at the results of the first round of negotiations in Berlin. Both sides agreed that the next round of talks shall be held in the second half of 2013 in the Philippines.
“The timing could not have been better. From October of this year to 2014, Germany and the Philippines will be celebrating 60 years of bilateral diplomatic relations” Ambassador Natividad said. She further noted that, “The agreement is an instrument for the protection of Filipinos in Germany. It will potentially benefit the Filipino nurses who will soon be deployed to Germany, allowing them to repatriate their pensions in full.”
The Philippine delegation was headed by de Quiros, Jr. The members of the delegation were: Ms. Judy Frances See, Senior Vice President, International Operations Division, SSS; Atty. Roberto B. Bautista, Manager II, International Affairs Department, SSS; Atty. Edgar Julio Asuncion, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, PhilHealth; and Atty. Jonathan Mangaoang, Division Chief, PhilHealth. From the Philippine Embassy, Minister Mardomel Melicor, Vice-Consul Anna de Vera Balle, and Vice-Consul Azela Arumpac joined the negotiations.