CATHOLIC bishops, lawmakers and workers were one in lambasting President Benigno Aquino 3rd for vetoing the proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase for pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS).
On Friday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said Aquino’s move showed that he has “no conscience” and has no sympathy for the poor.
Former CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz and Mania Auxiliary Broderick Pabillo were the most vocal in slamming the President’s decision.
“Ang Pangulo ay walang konsensiya, walang awa sa mga taong salat sa buhay [The President has no mercy, insensitive and unmerciful to the people who have less in life],” Cruz said.
He added that SSS pensioners are not asking any favor from the President but merely want to get the benefits they rightly deserve as taxpayers.
The prelate said Aquino should not deny senior citizens the little increase on their monthly pensions because the money that will be used also came from the taxes paid by these pensioners when they were still gainfully employed.
“The money of the government is the people’s money. It came from the taxes collected from the people, it’s not yours. If you give what is due to the people, you are not giving any favor but you are just returning what rightly belongs to them,” Cruz pointed out.
Pabillo said in vetoing the SSS pension hike bill, the President showed that his program of inclusive growth is a mere rhetoric.
The prelate, chairman of the CBCP’s Committee on Public Affairs, noted that it is not the first time that Aquino has shown his anti-poor policy, having vetoed the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor in 2013.
“Do we vote [for]those who will continue this anti-poor policy?” Pabillo asked in his Twitter account.
The Magna Carta for the Poor was aimed to protect the rights of the poor by giving them equal access to basic rights and government services.
But the President rejected it on the ground that some of the provisions of the bill were unrealistic, specifically the provision that seeks to provide shelter to the poor that would need P2.31 trillion to implement.
Former Rep. Renato Magtubo, chairman of Partido Manggagawa (PM), said Aquino can still redeem himself by approving the pension hike.
Magtubo added the President, instead of rejecting the bill, should have instructed SSS officials to improve their collection and lessen their unnecessary expenses including the granting of huge bonuses.
He said Aquino’s decision only showed his “cruelty and insensitivity to the old workers of the country.”
Julius Cainglet, vice president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), said Aquino’s decision proves that the President is “inconsiderate and heartless.”
FFW president Sonny Matula debunked Aquino’s claim that granting the pension hike will bleed the SSS dry.
Matula, also a veteran labor lawyer, said, “Pensioners who are now in the twilight of their life will live only for the next 5 to 10 years.”
“They are in a dire need to be satisfied by our social insurance institution. Our pensioners are now on a hand to mouth existence,” he added.