• #Eleksyon2016: The SSS pension hike

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    WHEN the President decided to reject the Social Security System (SSS) pension hike for senior citizens in mid-January, it seemed like a brave act of leadership. At least that’s how the Palace tried to spin it: look at this President, not caring about the May elections, and deciding to make the unpopular decision of refusing to raise the monthly pensions of our grandparents.

    But three weeks since, one gets the sense that this was not at all about bravery; nor was it about being a good leader. It was about deciding quite simply against giving SSS members what is due them, paying as they have for their contributions for most of their working lives.

    But also what one realizes is that this is a measure of matuwid na daan’s refusal to actually affect reforms in GOCCs like SSS, in the same way that it refuses to change the system of revenue collection in an agency like the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

    In lieu of reforms, we are made to imagine that to decide in favor of the people, in favor of our senior citizens, in favor of our workers, would mean sacrificing the future of our government agencies.

    This is the burden this government puts on its people. And we let them get away with it.

    The one who promises continuity
    Because of course the anointed one of the Palace, Mar Roxas, insists that this veto was the right decision. That this was the President thinking of our future. He also thinks there will be no backlash, because the electorate’s more broadminded than to vote based on this veto.

    And yet what he might not have anticipated is this electorate’s ability at compassion and malasakit – the kind that this government has so often proved it does not have for the people.

    Because we might be bogged down by the mathematics of it all, but government will be hard put to answer why it is that our senior citizens are getting pensions that cannot even pay for their maintenance medicines. They will say, well there is PhilHealth, and look! The Department of Health (DOH) has come out with a way to give out free maintenance medicines for the usual old-age ailments of high blood pressure and diabetes!

    But then Roxas would need to answer: what about this pension is equal to actually having a decent retirement fund for our senior citizens? Would any of our rich politicos, would Roxas and Aquino – owners of haciendas as they are, and coming from old rich families – would they be able to live off that pension that they insist is all that they can give our grandparents?

    The one we silence
    And of course we would rather not discuss at all the fact of reform in the Pag-IBIG Fund.

    It’s that reform that allowed for the fund to grow by the year, the one that improved the system of collection. It was reform that decided to give members better services, and which decided to make it easier to avail of calamity and emergency funds given the fact of a nation that is in a constant emergency situation.

    This was reform that grew the Pag-IBIG Fund, without increasing the contributions that members would be required to put out: P100 pesos per month. An amount that’s stayed the same since the 1980s.

    I’m sure there is a more nuanced discussion of the kind of reforms that happened in Pag-IBIG, and I imagine there is value in looking at whether or not these reforms were truly a good thing. But right now, given available data, it sure looks good enough on the page.

    If at all, given what is going on with the SSS, the Pag-IBIG Fund allows us to think reform possible. That it can be done without having to burden citizens, the ones who already live with employers who get away with not paying what is due them, the ones who already unduly suffer the consequences of systems on breakdown, if not ones that are always in the service of the ruling class.

    But of course we would rather not talk about the Pag-IBIG Fund as a measure of how reform is possible in GOCCs. Because we all know who effected those reforms right?

    Matuwid na daan picks on the people
    The President had said after his veto, that if he had agreed to the pension hike, the “SSS will be constrained to draw from and use its Investment Reserve Fund (IRF) to support the pension increase. Consequently, the IRF will diminish over the years, eventually reaching zero by the year 2029.” (GMA News Online, 21 Jan)

    From the same GMA News Report: “SSS Chief Actuary and Senior Vice President George Ongkeko Jr. said the SSS has brought down its accumulated uncollected revenues from employers which have failed to remit contributions to some 13 billion as of 2014. Ongkeko estimated the uncollected dues from members who have yet to pay their loans at P60 billion to P66 billion. <He also said that> the pension fund is looking at options on how the agency can sustain its fund life, and if ever, how much will contributions have to be increased to minimize the effect on paying members.” (21 Jan)

    Operating just on common sense, it seems important to ask: if there are billions that have yet to be collected in contributions and loans, why is SSS’s foremost concern hiking up contributions? And shouldn’t the President himself explain what exactly is being done about these uncollected billions?

    Because SSS collections happen between employers and SSS, between companies and corporations and SSS, yes? And yet there is no clear sense that the SSS is clamping down on the capitalists who are supposed to be putting out the cash for their employee’s savings.

    This is exactly what matuwid na daan’s BIR is doing: instead of monitoring employers and making sure that companies and corporations are paying their contractual workers’ taxes withheld, the workers are now required to issue receipts, so that the BIR can double-check if companies are in fact, paying our taxes. Of course that also means an additional 3 percent in taxes that we are being charged as tax payers other than the taxes already deducted from our paychecks.

    Ultimately, it’s making citizens pay for the inefficiency of government collections on the one hand, but also and ultimately: it is choosing to burden citizens versus forcing offices like the BIR and SSS to do their jobs and make collections more efficient, fix the systems that allow employers and big corporations and capitalists to keep their workers’ money for themselves.

    This is what the President’s veto was about, as far as I’m concerned. And this anti-people policy is what we’re going to be stuck with for another six years if matuwid na daan wins.

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    11 Comments

    1. Leopoldo Alvarez on

      Ang isyu dito ay ang SSS at ang SSS COMMISSION…

      Hindi po nila ginagawa ang mga nararapat gawin …:yung po sanang totoong matuwid… ‘yung tama… at sadyang naa-angkop… at tumataas na antas ng kahandaan… para matugunan ang pension increase ng mga SSS RETIREES.

      Malinaw na malinaw po at maliwanag pa sa sikat ng araw… hindi nila ginagampanan ang sinumpaang tungkulin. Kulang ang ibinibigay na kakayahan upang mapagmalasakitan at matulungan ang mga nagtatandaang mga retirees.

      Sa nakalipas na napakahabang 58 taon, halos anim (6) na dekada na, nang maitatag ang SSS, ang kanilang MANDATO ay bigyan ng DISENTENG buwanang pensyon ang mga retirado.

      Pero hindi po nangyayari ito hanggang ngayon… Kasi po wala po silang SAPAT at TAMAng programa, at ginagawa, para maging handa at matugunan ang ganitong pangangailangan ng SSS.

      Palagi nalang kulang na kulang… at hindi nakakasapat, ang ‘SSS production’ at ang performance nito…

      Dapat po sana, ang SSS ay may annual at periodic na “step-up production goals”… para umangat ang kanyang kakayahan, at umayon din sa tumataas na taunang “production index rate requirements” na dapat sana ay magandang batayan ng ahensya at nang makatugon kung ano ang talagang sapat at ano ang dapat, na increase sa pensyon ng mga retirees.

      Apparently, wala po silang “blueprint production index guide”, accompanied with “series of actions to take” para ma-reach yung goal.

      E, it looks like, wala din po naman yata silang “goal” para sa mga retirees. At wala din silang sapat na programa para marating yung “goal” na iyan.

      Dahil kung meron po, at continuous ang kanilang pag-aaral at ginagawa; at ang mga appropriate steps ay tamang nagagawa; e dapat sana, for the past 60 years, yung SSS should have been able “to cope up” already, meeting the targets, at ibigay yung dapat at sapat na benepisyo sa mga retirees.

      Kung mayroon man marahil na mga programa, it’s not working well o hindi sapat. Kulang ang productive income nito. Kulang ang efforts na ginugugol. Kulang ang kaisipang binibigay para sana tamang nakakatugon…

      Immagine po, 58 years in the making na po ang SSS, hindi pa rin maka target ng tama, e anong klase yun? Ketagal na nila sa pwesto… hindi pa rin sapat ang production… And you call this good and efficient performance? Sige nga po, sagutin nyo nga po?

      E, wala naman yata talagang target in the first place. Kaya walang tama, at sapat, na nararating. Kaya, iyon, BOKYA sila sa ating Presidente. And with that, they get to embarrass the President. Walang magawa ang Presidente kundi umayon sa malaking kakulangan ng SSS. Kaya nga ganun ang nangyari… presidential veto ang inabot ng SSS pension increase …at baka nga daw mabangkarote ang SSS pagdating ng 2028.

      Siguro, maaari ngang mabangkarote ang SSS… kung walang gagawin at hindi didiskarte ng tama at maayos ang SSS para mag-improve at lumaki ang kanyanyang production annual rate…

      But at least, ang Congress may ginawa na. Sana ang SSS naman, mag-isip din at gawin ang tamang hakbang, at programa para tumugon sa requirements ng Congress-sponsored measures para tulungan ang SSS members, especially yung mga matatanda na, katulad nung mga retirees.

      Ang dami kayang paraan… kung nanaising tingnan… May mga options din kung gugustuhing gawan ng paraan… Hindi lang kumikilos nang tama ang SSS… dedma lang! Nakakahon ang kanyang sagot: hindi kaya, hindi kakayanin, mababangkarote… sarado ang isip nila… at wala silang solusyon…

      Wala bang matatalino ang SSS?

      Mayroong more than a decade ang SSS to find ways and means (12 years). More than enough time na po iyan dapat —kung magtatrabaho ng maayos ang mga taga SSS at SSS COMMISSION. Kahit ibigay pa yung P2,000 increase ngayon… dahil makakagawa dapat sila ng paraan along the way before 2029 para punuan ang kakulangan sa pondo. ANG BOLA AY NASA KAMAY NG SSS PARA IPANALO ANG MGA HINAING NG MGA RETIREES.

      In short, wala dapat mangyayaring buncruptcy sa SSS funds sa kinakatakutang pagdating ng 2028 kung paghahandaan ng SSS at gawin nito ang tamang paraan upang makalikom ng tamang pondo. 12 years should be more than enough time of good preparation.

      At yung mga SSS officials …they should really be working hard; and use their big brains; to find ways and means on where to produce, or source, the needed funds. Yung tamang diskarte… hindi yung pskaangkaang. Yung magaling at Matalinong napag-isipan.

      Tapatan dapat ng SSS ng tamang sipag yung naglalakihang perks, bonuses at kita nila sa SSS… Hindi yung parelaks relaks lang sa opisina… pakape-kape …at pina-uubaya kay batman yung problema! Don’t get to embarrass the President by simply doing nothing.

      Huwag naman sana nilang tikisin ang mga retirees na para bagang minamadali na lang na sila’y matigok na ng maaga; kaya nga ba tinitikis? …para matigok na lang at mabawasan kaagad ang kanilang obligasyon sa mga retirees?

      Tanong lang… ano po ba talaga ang tunay na life expectancy… sa ngayon… ng mga pinoy? E, sandali na lang sigurong magbabayad ang SSS ng pension e, magpapaalam na ang mga retirees. E, bakit pinagdadamutan pa?

      Ang mga retirees ay naging “economic heroes” din naman nung kapanahonan nila para iangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa sa abot ng kanilang makakaya. Dapat, suklian ng SSS iyan sa pamamagitan ng DISENTENG pension dahil ‘yan ang kanilang trabaho at mandate na inihatag sa kanila. Dapat, ginagampanan ninyo ng matalino iyan, mga magigiting na opisyales at kawani ng SSS at SSS COMMISSION.

      Isinaalang-alang ba ng SSS ang totoo at accurate life expectancy sa kanilang actuarial figures? Tama ba talaga ang kanilang datos? Hindi ba medyo manipulated kaya ang computation? Nagtatanong lang po. Dapat siguro, i-confirm ito ng COA.

      Huwag naman ganon… na pinapahirapan ang mga retirees. Palawigin pa ninyo ang kanilang natitirang kaunting buhay sa pamamagitan ng sapat na buwanang pension. Matitigok din naman iyan ng kusa. Hindi yung pambili na lamang ng lason ang papensyon ng SSS.

      Sa mga taga SSS, gising po! Huwag kayong tutulogtulog! May obligasyon po kayong ibigay ang tama at disenteng pension sa mga retirees. Kalakip po iyan ng inyong mandato… Huwag kayong pabaya!

      Nakakalungkot po talaga… dahil para sa mga taga SSS, sterling performance na daw po yung makapagbigay ang ahensya ng KAKARAMPOT sa mga retirees—5% increase in its 6 years of administration.

      Kaya nga daw po, ang mga opisyales ng SSS, ay dapat lang bayaran ng malalaking PERKS and BONUSES—for doing that little. Ang ganda po ng kanilang pananaw! Hindi po ba sadyang nakakainis iyan?

      At inihahambing pa ang mga sarili nila sa private sector… kasi daw, iyon ang prevailing rate sa private sector.

      Pero sa private sector po, mga sir, they perform really good. And they hit their targets pretty well. Sa SSS, hinde.

    2. There are another claimant who appeal; not just to hike the pension, to those who are about to be given their pension, they never yet received theirs…until now the release is not yet done. Please to focus to the pensioners that are still pending the process of what are supposed for them to receive…they contribute for longer years in order for them to reap it now….

      Partly the government is not to be blamed for the pensions that some receive the meager amount…because as long as you have huge amount of contributions during working years, they are about to expect the higher pensions to be received. Maybe there’s no consideration coz SSS officials are quite affected when it bases to their salary! They wont share certain amount to be distributed to pensioners….& we have nothing to do with that, no one is willing to sacrifice in other words.

    3. Since this admin started, everybody is burdened with so much paperworks even in this digital age. Businesses can not start until ALL proper documents are submitted and going thru all the clearances are just too mind boggling and of course too costly for a new business to bear. I wonder if this government is encouraging businesses and secondly, if they think all citizen are like them, i.e., that they can not be trusted.

    4. President Abnoy will surely land in jail days after he leaves office.. that will be the day when Filipinos must celebrate… getting the scourge of the masses in jail deserves celebration

    5. The most corrupt and brazen government ever elected in our country. PNoy is rooting for Mar Roxas and Grace Poe come May 2016 Presidential election. Let’s not vote them. Let us help educate the masses in choosing the best candidates in order for us to move forward.

    6. This is a guarantee to all Filipinos, matuwid na daan candidates will not win in this election. Mar Roxas future is doomed. We might not be loud but I am sure that our votes will count. There are 2 million seniors plus 3 times our voting children will make our voices be heard. No to matuwid na daan , No to all Liberal party candidates. Now you will know and feel the Wrath of the Seniors. Let us unite against these people.

    7. SSS is not a GOCC; rather, a GFI, Government Financial Institution. Nice piece, though, as usual. Keep it up.

    8. Leodegardo Pruna on

      The matuwid na daan is not really what it means, rather it is baluktot na daan katulad ng pasimuno nito. Tiis-tiis mga kapuwa ko Filipino. Pagpalain tayo ng Panginoon.

    9. Abnoy does not mind enforcing policies that are anti-people amid election period. Most probably, he has an evil secret we don’t know that seems he thinks Roxas will win in the coming May election.