Protests vs. SSS, Philhealth premium hikes

Jan. 08, 2014

By John Rizle L. Saligumba
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Workers and members of militant groups threw tomatoes at the Social Security System and PhilHealth offices here to condemn the government’s recent round of premium hikes that they said add to the “increasing list of New Year miseries.”

“The Aquino government must instead increase the salaries of workers. It must prosecute companies that do not remit SSS and PhilHealth contributions collected from workers or worse do not even give such benefits,” said Romualdo Basilio, secretary general of Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao.

Ernesto Laid, Jr., Treasurer of the Davao Metro Shuttle Labor Union, a union in a big bus company operating in the Davao province, said their contributions were not remitted by the company since 2010.

“As per procedure, the contributions were automatically deducted from our salaries but we were not given any proof. When we get sick or we want to claim of services, we were just told to go to the company and ask for a cash advance,” he said.

Laid believes that the financial situation of the two agencies can be remedied by investigating large companies who have not remitted their employees’ contributions.

Presidential Communications Secretary Coloma reportedly said that the 0.6% (more or less P25 according to KMU) will prevent SSS funds from “drying-up” and pay its liabilities amounting  to P1.078 trillion.

Coloma said the increase P100 from the previous P200 of PhilHealth premiums will only cover employees, individually paying members and overseas Filipino workers.

Meanwhie, Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luzviminda C. Ilagan and Emmi
De Jesus urged their colleagues in the House of Representatives “to conduct an inquiry into the financial management situation of the Social Security System.”

“The SSS is in no position to shove these increases down workers’ throats. No consultation was conducted among stakeholders. A deeper look into the financial situation of the SSS should be conducted and at the very least, an explanation should be in order,” said Ilagan in an emailed statement.

The Gabriela solon also expressed her disappointment following Malacanang’s categorical refusal to put a stop to proposed increases in SSS contributions.

“Aquino’s bias against workers is too obvious in this refusal to ease the burden on Filipino workers. This comes amid skyrocketing prices of food, utilities, services and petroleum products,” Ilagan said.

Gabriela said that Congress has not placed into its agenda legislation to look into the SSS’ financial situation despite having been filed in August 2013.

Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang of Davao City’s 2nd district in a privilege speech at the regular session of the City Council Tuesday said “there was no consultation” thus he called the move “undemocratic and unjust in nature.”

Dayanghirang said the measure is an “additional burden” to the “series of major calamities which hit our country” like the Zamboanga stand-off, the Visayas earthquake and Typhoons Pablo Yolanda.

Thus he said, this “will never justify” the increase as it “rivals against the budgeting power” of the people which also sees an increase in the cost of basic necessities like food, electricity, water and education.

Dayanghirang also thinks that there must first be an increase in salaries and wages.

“The salaries and wages of our employees are just stagnant, you will not see any increases of salaries or an announcement coming from the department of labor while you will hear now and then increase in the prices of gasoline and among others,” he said.

Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, a local barangay captain here said she is against the premium increases “in the light of the economic crisis that majority of the Filipino people are endlessly experiencing.” (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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