Pag-IBIG President and CEO Darlene Berberabe visited Canada via Vancouver then Toronto last week to help launch Pag-IBIG to Filipino-Canadians and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The information sessions were organized by the Philippine Consulates of Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. I-Remit, being one of its larger collection partners globally, assisted Pag-IBIG in this process. Accompanying Berberabe were Pag-IBIG officials Amado Dizon III, Vice President for International Operations, and Nanette Abilay, Department Manager III for the Business Development Sector.
In an exclusive interview with PNT, when asked why Pag-IBIG decided to come to Canada just now, Berberabe explained that a remittance agreement with partners had to be established first in order to facilitate a better way to receive and transmit remittances to the members’ funds.
“There are around 700,000 Filipinos in Canada, including permanent residents and OFWs,” she explains. “Pag-IBIG is mandatory for OFWS, and we believe that it is important to lay down the electronic processes to make available Pag-IBIG benefits to members based in Canada.”
“We are hopeful that because of technology in online processes that our OFWs will be excited to start saving with Pag-IBIG or avail of our different loan products,” Berberabe tells PNT. “In the last six years that I served in Pag-IBIG, we have seen our membership numbers double, as well as benefits, and this is also because of our housing loans, savings program and other loan products.” It is important for Pag-IBIG that they are able to disseminate information to its members on how they can avail of their benefits.
Even non-Filipino citizens can avail of the Pag-IBIG products. Filipino-Canadians can apply to be voluntary members and get housing loans as they can still own property in the Philippines even if they are already Canadians. “Also, if they have relatives they want to help in the Philippines, they can apply as a member and enlist their loved ones as beneficiaries. It will be their relatives’ names on the housing titles,” Berberabe further explains.
One of the more popular programs of Pag-IBIG is their savings account. Berberabe said that Pag-IBIG has earned a net income of 20.5 billion pesos in 2015. Total assets amount to almost 400 billion pesos. The savings account earns dividends every year, and in 2015, Pag-IBIG declared a dividend rate of 4.8 % per annum, tax free, while money in a savings account
in the bank will incur 20% in withholding tax. Holders of savings accounts in Pag-IBIG can avail of multi-purpose loans of up to 80% of their total savings for school enrollment, groceries or other purpose.
“We are coordinating with the consular offices here in Canada to assist Pag-IBIG members with these services, and for us to participate in outreach programs as well,” adds Berberabe. She also says that former members who have terminated their accounts with Pag-IBIG before coming to Canada can re-apply and will get new numbers.
“Members can also get loyalty cards which can be used for discounts with our partners in the food, pharmaceutical and other industries,” she continues. In their next visit to PH, they can go to any branch of Pag-IBIG and apply for a loyalty card.
Berberabe says her stint at Pag-IBIG has been a great privilege for her, coming from the private sector. With a new administration coming in, she says that she is grateful for the six years she has been in government, and hopes that Pag-IBIG members are happier with the services they give.
Barry Ponce de Leon, Manager of I-Remit in Vancouver, says that he and his team are excited about the partnership with Pag-IBIG. “We are putting together information sessions for Filipino communities in place for Pag-IBIG because we are very supportive of their products and services,” de Leon explains. Together with Pag-IBIG, I-Remit has an on-going promotion where existing and new Pag-IBIG members who avail of the Pag-IBIG payment services through I-Remit will receive electronic raffle tickets for a house and lot package in the Philippines.
“You can also earn more tickets if you bring a friend in with you to avail of the same Pag-IBIG payment service,” de Leon adds. He says that the promotion started last week, and he hopes that this program will increase awareness among Filipinos on the great services and savings values that Pag-IBIG offers. “We are very excited for this happening to Filipino-Canadians.”