The entire Aquino Administration is not at all opposed to increasing the monthly pension of retired Social Security System (SSS) members.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz is in favor of an across-the-board monthly pension hike of P500, not the P2,000 sought by the retirees, according to Jose Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers (FFW).
Matula over the weekend said Baldoz made her stand when the SSS pension raise was brought up during the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council meeting at the Department of Labor and Employment in Manila on Friday.
The Labor chief presided over the meeting, which was attended by veteran labor leaders, including Matula.
The FFW president and lawyer Arnel Dolendo of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines said they are amenable to a P1,000 increase, an amount that was also backed during the meeting by a representative of the Employers Cooperatives of the Philippines.
Another meeting on February 15 will further discuss the SSS pension increase for 1.8 million pensioners.
Matula said the SSS is capable of granting the P2,000 pension hike without the pension fund going bankrupt by 2029.
During the Administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he noted, the SSS had no capacity to raise members’ benefits and yet did so by slashing the bonuses of top SSS officials.
At least seven more lawmakers have signed a resolution calling for an override of the presidential veto on the proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase for SSS pensioners, after Congress failed to overturn the veto last week.
However, while opposition lawmaker Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list over the weekend said there are already 64 lawmakers who have signed the override resolution, the figure is still far from the required 192 signatures representing two-thirds of the House of Representatives’ membership.
“We now have an initial 64 signatures so far collated and we are still gathering the signed resolution from the offices of many congressmen next week. By May 23, we hope to have more than 192 signatures,” Colmenares, who was among those who principally moved for an override of the veto, said in a statement.
In addition to the 57 signatures earlier gathered, according to him, the override resolution was signed by Lino Cayetano of Taguig City’s second district, Sol Aragones of Laguna’s Third District, Enrico Echiverri of Caloocan’s First District, Kimi Cojuangco of Pangasinan’s Fifth District, Tobias Tiangco of the Lone District of Navotas City, Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina City’s First District and Arthur Yap of Bohol’s Third District.
The initial 57 signatures on the override resolution were those of all members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition as well as several members of the Liberal Party, United Nationalist Alliance, Lakas-CMD, House minority bloc and House independent minority bloc.
Colmenares, who is running for a Senate seat in this year’s polls, principally authored the bill that proposed the P2,000 SSS pension hike.
He said the pension for a retiree is P3,169 on average, with the lowest being P1,200 per month.
Last month, President Benigno Aquino 3rd rejected the proposed pension hike, citing its “dire financial consequences.”
A two-thirds vote each from the Senate and House of Representatives can overturn the President’s veto, under Article VI, Section 27 of the 1987 Constitution.
Without taking up the override resolution on the floor, Congress adjourned last week before the start of the campaign period on February 9 for the May 9, 2016 elections.
Sessions will resume on May 23 and run until June 10.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO