DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives on Wednesday slammed the proposal made by the Social Security System (SSS) to delay the second round of pension hike to 2020 instead of 2019.
ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro criticized the move, stating that the proposal raised by SSS president and CEO Emmanuel Dooc “will deliver a hard blow to some two million SSS pensioners in the country.”
Apart from such knockback, the Makabayan solons said benefits of SSS pensioners are already slashed significantly by TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) which has rammed the people with a 4.5% inflation rate.
“We caution President (Rodrigo) Duterte not to push through with the proposed delay as most retirees rely on their pensions as their main source of funds for their everyday expenses. The SSS leadership has been proposing a delay in the second round of pension hike and an increase in contribution without considering how it would affect its members,” both Tinio and Castro emphasized in a statement issued on Wednesday, May 16.
Upon arriving at said proposal, Dooc justified that it will be difficult for the SSS to immediately implement the second round of increase next year without first increasing the contribution rate of its members.
SSS pensioners are supposed to receive P1,000 additional pension next year.
“Prolonging the actuarial life of the SSS has been its alibi to impose contribution hikes and delay in the increase in pension for the pensioners. They should first focus on improving collection efficiency, collect contributions from delinquent employers, and decrease the huge bonuses and perks of its board members instead of pushing for contribution hikes and delaying pension increases,” Castro said.
The Makabayan solon added that SSS should run after delinquent employers and non-compliant companies who owe it and SSS members billions in uncollected premiums as well as in liabilities for non-remittance, non-registration, and underreporting.
She pointed out that SSS is depriving pensioners their hard-earned benefits for another year if the proposal pushes through.
Tinio, for his part, emphasized that the administration of President is imposing successive and numerous hikes primarily on the prices of basic necessities, including the contributions to PhilHealth, as brought about by the implementation of the TRAIN law.
The measures, Tinio added, deny the people of their benefits which mainly burden the poor with their already meager wages.
“The people are clamoring for an increase in salaries and wages, for their benefits and lower prices of goods and services. Most pensioners often still contribute in their family income with their SSS pensions. The Duterte administration should listen to the people’s cries before allowing delays in the pension hike,” the Makabayan solons concluded.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement sent to the media on Wednesday, SSS said it is seeking the issuance of an Executive Order or the enactment of the proposed amendment of Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Law of 1997.
The move, SSS, added, will ensure the fulfillment of the promise of Duterte to give additional benefits to pensioners.
“We do not have the power to give an additional P1,000 benefit by next year. The SSS does not have the power to adjust the contribution rate or amount of monthly pension, only the President of the Republic and Congress have the power to approve a pension increase,” Dooc said as quoted in the SSS statement. (davaotoday.com)