FIVE of the biggest labor organizations in the Philippines on Thursday strongly urged the Senate to immediately pass the proposed law requiring the Social Security System (SSS) to increase the monthly pension of about 1.9 million retired workers by P2,000.
The call of Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa (TUCP), Nagkaisa, Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), and Labor Party of the Philippines (LLP) was issued for the Senate to hasten the passage of the House Bill No. 5842 that was adopted and sponsored by Sen. Cynthia Villar on August 26.
Alan Tanjusay, spokesman of TUCP—Nagkaisa, said the approval must be immediate since the 1.9 million SSS pensioners badly needed the money to augment their budget for their monthly expenses on medicines, electricity, water, and so on.
Renato Magtubo, former congressman and now chairman of PM, said his group is strongly calling the attention of the senators to prioritize the proposed P2,000 increase on the SSS monthly pension since “there is no dramatic increase on the amount of pension that SSS pensioners have been receiving for a long period of time.”
Magtubo stressed that Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares’ proposal was “timely [despite]the amount was small [because it]will surely help retirees/pensioners in their needs most specially their medical needs.”
Sonny Matula, a lawyer who chairs FFW, likewise pointed out that the SSS pensioners “badly needed” the P2,000 hike.
Tanjusay noted that even Nagkaisa (coalition of 90 percent of labor unions in the country) and LLP are in full support of the proposed SSS pension increase because it would benefit around 1.9 million retired workers from private firms.
On August 26, the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises chaired by Sen. Villar cited HB 5842 in her sponsorship speech.
In the same day, Villar made the sponsorship on the Report No. 213 of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.
As she made the sponsorship, Villar said, “Kasi sa tinatanggap na monthly pension ng ating mga retiradong manggagawa na minimum of between P1,200 and P2,400, mabibilang sila sa mga Pilipinong living below the poverty line. In fact, kahit na dagdagan pa ang kanilang monthly pension ng P2,000 ayon sa ating rekomendasyon, hindi pa rin nila malalampasan ang poverty threshold. As such, they will still be labeled as poor… Ibig sabihin, matapos magtrabaho ang mga pribadong manggagawa ng 20 taon, kapag sila ay retirado na, marami sa kanila, na aasa na lang sa monthly pension nila, ay mamumuhay below the poverty line. Medyo nakakalungkot naman ang hahantungan ng mga empleyado sa ating bansa [The minimum monthly pension received by retired employees is between P1,200 and P2,400, and they would be classified as Filipinos living below the poverty line. In fact, even if we add P2,000 on their monthly pension, based on our recommendation, they still would be in the lines of poverty threshold. As such, they will still be labeled as poor… This means that after working for 20 years, when they retire, most of them would just depend on their monthly pension and they would be living below the poverty line. It’s saddening that this is the fate of retired workers in our country.”
After August 26, Villar’s committee has yet to make a follow-up action on the proposed law.
The proposed law specifically intends to amend Section 12 of Republic Act No. 1161, which states that workers who have 10 years of SSS monthly contribution will receive P1,200 monthly pension and those who have 20 years of SSS monthly contribution will get P2,400 monthly pension.
Unfortunately, reports have been floating to the media that the government agency could not afford to finance the P49 billion budget for the increase from year 2016 to 2042.
This led Rep. Colmenares to blow his top last week saying “the SSS [must]stop scaring the Senate from the P2,000 pension increase by claiming that Social Security System (SSS) has no funds for the increase.”
“SSS should stop trying to delude the people and the Senate that it has no funds for the P2,000 pension increase because this is not true. The SSS Board is tryng to sabotage the passage of the P2,000 pension increase, even if it has actually admitted several times that it has the funds for the pension increase. The increase will only shorten its fund life to 2029 instead of the current 2042,” Colmenares added.