DAVAO CITY – Progressive groups are not keen on accepting the proposed P500-P1,000 increase to the Social Security System pension after President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the bill seeking a higher P2,000 hike.
As a compromise to the vetoed bill, the SSS offered a P500-increase to its 2.1 million pensioners, while the P1,000 increase was proposed by lawmakers.
President Aquino vetoed House Bill No. 5842 last January 12 saying the P2,000 increase would compromise the life of the SSS which has 31 million members.
Workers under Kilusang Mayo Uno said the President and his allies are “insulting” the pensioners.
In a protest action in front of the SSS office in Bajada, here, the labor group said the government is “shortchanging the SSS pensioners.”
“The government is lying through its teeth. The proponents of this bill had carefully studied the financial capacity of the SSS, including all possible sourcing, such as the improving the collections and penalizing delinquent employers who do not remit SSS premium contributions of worker-members,” said Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU-Southern Mindanao.
“If the president is worried about insolvency, it must instead deprive SSS executives of fat bonuses and return the P71 million unaudited fund to the SSS members than veto the bill. Improve collections and create mechanisms to penalize delinquent employers in order to boost SSS funds,” he said.
The labor group also condemned the government’s and the SSS executives’ defense of the veto by “pitting the future of the current members and the pensioners.”
The group said that the main hindrance to the future of the SSS is inefficiency, citing SSS’ P325-billion uncollected revenue. Olalo said that if SSS can only improve its present 38 percent collection rate, the stability of the SSS fund will also be much improved.
Meanwhile, Ariel Casilao, first nominee of Anakpawis Partylist, said the public can still hold mass actions to lobby for the override of the veto.
Casilao said “representatives from the Makabayan bloc are now lobbying support in Congress to make the veto reversal possible.”
“PNoy and his allies are attempting to create the bogey of insolvency to persuade belief in the morality of the veto, but we are not convinced. We are also future pensioners and this P2,000 pension hike is immediate relief for us in the future,” he said.
“PNoy and the ruling Liberal Party clique is evidently anti-worker and anti-poor,” Casilao added.
“We are calling on all pensioners and current SSS contributors to strongly unite in order to reverse the veto. Let us be clear with our demand for the P2,000 SSS pension hike and continue protesting until the bill is finally passed into law,” he said.
A veto override should have a two-thirds vote of both the Senate and the House of Representative.
But Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said lawmakers should “consider the stability of the Social Security System (SSS) fund.”
He also said the pensioners could get additional support from other government agencies.
Casilao said a nationwide protest and pensioners’ consultation will be held on January 28 and 30. (davaotoday.com)