By: Roy Bersales
THE Social Security System (SSS) was under heavy attack in the previous leadership because it stood against the proposed increase on monthly pension of the retired workers.
This time, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), one of the biggest labor alliances in the country, expressed strong support to the SSS due to the belief that the pension fund, under the leadership of Social Security Commission (SSC) chairman Amado Valdez, will not oppose the proposed P2,000 increase on the monthly pension of the retired workers who are members of the SSS once became a law.
In a statement, Atty. Jose sonny Matula, FFW president, said the monthly pension of the SSS pensioners needs to be increased because the “pension increase will benefit our SSS pensioners who are already in the twilight of their years with no other sources of income to support their daily needs and medical expenses.”
Previous media reports said the committees both at the Senate and House of Representatives handling the refiled proposed P2,000 monthly pension increase have approved their respective versions.
The chairpersons of the two committees vowed that the proposed law will reach President Rodrigo Duterte and will surely sign the proposed measure to make it a law by this time.
The proposed law was approved and passed by the previous Congress, but then President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III shot it down saying SSS would become bankrupt due to the increase.
Aquino’s decision was widely believed to be in accordance with the strong opposition of SSC chairman Juan Santos and SSS president and CEO Emiliano de Quiros Jr. to the increase.
Reports said Valdez, former Dean of the Law School of the University of the East (UE), few days ago said he would not oppose the proposal to increase the monthly pension of the SSS pensioners.
Valdez stressed that he will look ways to give what is due to the retired workers.
Records at the Congress revealed that the proposal to increase the monthly pension of the workers was long overdue since it started in the 14th Congress with P10,000 proposed increase.
It was refiled in the 15th Congress and reduced to P5,000.
It was rejected and subsequently submitted once again in the 16th Congress with P2,000 proposed increase.
Obet de Castro, deputy secretary-general of the Koalisyong Makabayan, previously told the media that the P2,000 proposed increase was a “compromise” agreement among the lawmakers.
The proposed measure was immediately refiled at the two chambers of the 17th Congress with full of hope that it will become a law this time.
As Senator Richard Gordon stressed, head of the Senate committee that approved the proposed increase stressed that SSS should do all in order to give what is due to the retired workers.
Matula, an expert in labor laws, stressed that “under Republic Act No. 8262, SSS members with at least 10 credited years of service are provided a monthly pension of P1,200.00, while those with 20 credited years are given P2,400.00. Those who retired under the old SSS Law, R.A. 1161, are even more hard pressed because their monthly pension pays much less. The P1,200.00 is only P40.00/day or lower than a prisoner’s allowance of P50.00 each/day. It is also lower than the P60.00/day/person poverty threshold set by the Philippines Statistics Authority.”
Matula asserted that the SSS pensioners should get an additional monthly pension since “the amount that our retirees receive from the SSS monthly is sadly inadequate to meet even the barest of their needs.”
Matula extremely argued that the monthly pension of the SSS pensioners must be increased precisely “to make it more responsive to the basic needs our SSS pensioners.”