Controversial veto on SSS pension hike irks bishop

Carizza Ibañez

MANILA– After President Benigno Aquino III refused to sign the bill which seeks a P2,000.00 increase in the monthly pension of senior members of the Social Security System (SSS), Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo joined the many personalities who are in disapproval of Aquino’s unpopular decision to veto the said hike.

Pabillo, who is also the chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Committee on Public Affairs, said that Aquino’s move proves his lack of sympathy for the masses, especially the elders.

Labelling Aquino as “anti-poor”, Pabillo remarked that the chief executive’s maxim of “inclusive growth” was nothing but empty words.

Pabillo also recalled a previous instance wherein Aquino showed indifference to the plight of the poor when he rejected the Magna Carta for the Poor in 2013, a measure that Pabillo believed would have provided the less fortunate Filipinos with “shelter, livelihood, and health services.”

“Do we vote for those who will continue this anti-poor policy?” Pabillo added.

Aware of the public outrage that followed his veto, Aquino defended his decision by saying that it was an act to save SSS from the high probability of bankruptcy had the pension hike pushed through.

While he acknowledges the good intention of the proposed hike, Aquino said he “cannot support the bill in its present form” because it would result in drastic monetary repercussions and worse, jeopardize the entire SSS system.

“The proposed pension increase of P2,000 per retiree, multiplied by the present number of more than two million pensioners, will result in a total payout of P56.0 billion annually. Compared against annual investment income of P30 billion to P40 billion, such total payment for pensioners will yield a deficit of P16 billion to P26 billion annually,” Aquino explained.

Chiefly authored by Bayan Muna party list Rep. Neri Colmenares, the pension hike bill was approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate last year, and was then forwarded to Malacañang for Aquino’s signature.

However, Aquino turned down the bill last January 14.

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