DAVAO CITY – As their form of protesting against President Benigno Aquino III’s veto of House Bill 5842, a bill seeking for the P2,000 increase in pension of Social Security System members, women from various sectors here held a flash mob in front of the SSS regional office Tuesday.
The bill was authored by Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is also running for senator in the coming elections. Pres. Aquino vetoed the bill saying the increase would shorten the life of the SSS, which at present has 31 million members.
Bai Ali Indayla, Gabriela Women’s Party-list third nominee and spokesperson for Mindanao said: “President Aquino is so insensitive to his “bosses’” demands of relief amidst worsening poverty situation, instead he is more concerned about the SSS executives who are receiving millions for their bonuses and salaries every month.”
Indayla added that it is “shameful” for the president to veto the bill for senior citizens, when a Philippine president would get a salary increase of P280,000 in four years.
“Clearly the president is heartless and has no conscience for the poor,” Indayla said.
Indayla urged the people, specially the pensioners, to join their calls with other progressive organization for the Congress to override the presidential veto and protest Pres. Aquino’s anti-poor policies.
“It is high time that we remind the president that his mandate emanates from the people and not from the few,” she said.
She said their dance protest is also a build-up activity for the international campaign, One Billion Rising 2016 which will happen on February 14.
Meanwhile, militant lawmakers are also calling on their colleagues to overturn Pres. Aquino’s veto.
Gabriela Women’s Party Congresswomen Luzviminda Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus also joined the protest and took issue with the spin and play of words that portrayed SSS members as “non-poor” and countered Aquino’s alibis citing the so-called protection of the pension fund’s actuarial longevity.
“The fact is that SSS officials reward themselves with hefty bonuses for the measly 38% collection efficiency while wasting 11% of collections on overhead operations. SSS has always boasted about its good financial standing, investing billions in various corporations,” said Ilagan.
She said this only shows that SSS officials are out to “defend their bonuses and their inefficiency.”
“Pensioners have every right to demand a decent reward for years of hard-earned labor and contributions. We call on our colleagues to take a stand for pensioners and override the veto,” Ilagan said.
De Jesus, for her part, disproved allegations by Aquino’s camp that the bill is an electioneering gimmick.
“The Makabayan bloc, led by [Rep. Colmenares] has been working on the bill for more than four years with painstaking advocacy efforts by SSS members themselves who gathered signatures and lobbied for the bill’s approval,” she said.
“There would have been no stopping Aquino and his allies in both houses of Congress in approving a hike in pension early on and way before the election period if they had wanted to. The fact that the palace is now scampering to save face by issuing through an executive order, a hike of 1,000 pesos, proves that it is Aquino who is doing the electioneering,” said De Jesus.
According to the legislative process on how a bill becomes a law, should the Congress decide to override the veto, “the House and the Senate shall proceed separately to reconsider the bill or the vetoed items of the bill.”
The bill or its vetoed items needs a vote of two-thirds of the members of each House for it to become a law. (davaotoday.com)