PENSION HIKE FIASCO A NATIONAL SHAME

Lazy and irresponsible incompetents in Congress, Malacañang, and SSS

26

The mess over the vetoed increase for Social Security System pensioners would have been an utter comedy of errors, if it had not first made pensioners miserable as they were told that after 17 years, they would get a P2,000-per month increase.

Advertisements

After all, it was the powerful Senate President Franklin Drilon himself—also the ruling Liberal Party’s chairman—who promised in November: “The passage of this bill is an early Christmas gift of the Senate to the SSS pensioners, who depend on these pensions for their daily expenses.”

It’s really a comedic skit, if not for what it reveals: This Yellow Government, its House of Representatives, its Senate, the President and his executive office, and the SSS are a bunch of lazy, irresponsible, incompetents we cannot trust our future with.

Why are taxpayers spending P12 billion yearly to maintain Congress, P3 billion for the Office of the President, and P50 million for the SSS commissioners if they are doing such lousy jobs?

It’s really such a national shame: Congress passed a bill, so quickly, without studying its consequences. Now they’re forced to eat their words, or maybe eat copies of the bill.

The bill mandating a P2,000 across-the-board increase in SSS pensions was filed June 4 by leftist party representative Neri Colmenares. A dozen other congressmen jumped in to became co-authors.

Senator Cynthia Villar filed the Senate version a little over a month later, in August. Senator Antonio Trillanes thought the bill would endear him to 2 million pensioners that he begged Villar that he be co-author.

Lazy, irresponsible, and incompetent: Being conjugal owner of one of the country’s biggest property conglomerates, one would think that Senator Villar would have requested two of the probably 500 top finance people in their companies to study how the SSS could afford the pension increase she is asking, and if not, how it could raise the needed additional funds.

SSS Commissioners: Did they oppose the plan, or propose alternatives?

SSS Commissioners: Did they oppose the plan, or propose alternatives?

Nothing of the sort. Villar can’t even explain why she asked for a P2,000 pension increase, and not P1,500 or even P1,000. All she could say is that it is long overdue as the last increase was 18 years ago, and that pensioners need medicine, which have increased in prices. SSS, she said, should just increase its efficiency in collecting premiums, with billions according to her uncollected.

Co-author Trillanes
One would think that Trillanes would have assigned at least one of his 55 highly-paid consultants (including his brother, of course) to go to the SSS and ask the officials there what they think of the law he is co-authoring.

Nothing of the sort. After getting to be listed as co-author of the bill, he seemed to have forgotten about it, and went back to his full-time project of throwing dirt at Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Did the authors of the bill in Congress bother to study the impact of their bill, to ask the SSS for their feedback? Not at all.

Bills to be made into law are supposed to be studied with a fine-tooth comb. A bill therefore is first referred to the appropriate committee to study it, call for public hearings, and ask experts for their inputs.

The SSS bill was referred to the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization on June 4, 2015, the day Colmenares filed the bill. Guess when the Committee approved it?

On the same day, with the one-page “study” simply lifting the bill’s explanation. No study, no hearings with SSS officials called to testify. When did the House approve the bill? Five days later.

This pension-hike bill would go down in legislative history as the fastest bill ever approved by Congress: filed June 4, it was approved less than a week later on June 9. It would go down in legislative history as the only bill of major importance approved by all 211 members of the House of Representatives. Not a single “Nay” vote, not an “Abstain” vote.

Every single member of the House approved the bill, but President Aquino, whose Liberal Party controls the House, vetoed it. Something is terribly, terribly wrong here.

The Senate adopted the House bill June 11 and approved it November 9, with all senators – fifteen of them – approving it, except for Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who said then what Aquino and the SSS is saying now, that the increase could cause the bankruptcy of the state firm. The bill was referred August 5 to two Senate committees, which approved it two weeks later — no hearings, no study.

This episode makes me afraid that it is not impossible that a bill filed by some crazy congressman — and there are many there – would declare war on China, and Congress would approve, with them realizing what they’ve done only when Aquino vetoes it.

And what was Aquino doing all this time, from June last year to the start of this year? Nothing.

Look, Aquino’s party controls Congress. Drilon is his party’s chairman while Belmonte is an executive vice president. Aquino, I was told, calls these two people almost everyday, to relieve his headache every time he thinks about national affairs. Co-author of the bill Trillanes is Aquino’s personal political assassin.

Yet Aquino didn’t bother to ask them about the implications of the SSS pension-hike bill they were pushing? What an incompetent president!

Aquino paralyzed, again
Who knows what happened? My guess is that, using Enrile’s recent epithet for the President, Aquino – again as in the Mamasapano– was a Hamlet, paralyzed on what to do, since a veto would affect his candidate Roxas’ chances in the presidential elections. But somebody gave him a scare that SSS would keel over as soon as he signed the pension hike bill. Aquino vetoed the bill on the day it would have lapsed into law, if he didn’t sign or veto it.

One would have expected SSS President Emilio de Quiros, its chairman of Hyatt 10 infamy Juan Santos and its Board of Trustees would have raised the alarm many months ago, since if SSS keels over they would lose their lucrative incomes from it, which averages for each Trustee P7 million yearly, including their honorariums from firms where the pension fund has investments. But nothing, we’ve heard nothing from them. They’re useless commissioners.

A responsible SSS President and board would have come up with different scenarios on how much the pension should be raised, and how to raise the needed funds. I bet the funds raised if SSS’ shares in Union Bank, Philex Mining, and Belle Corp. were sold would be enough to cover for a few years the added cost of raising retirees’ monthly pensions. But I’d also bet the SSS board would never make such a suggestion, since they’re getting millions of pesos in honorariums and expense accounts from these firms.

Only now are we told by Aquino that the pension increase would cost P56 billion and would deplete the SSS’ reserve funds by 2029. But why didn’t he tell this to his party which controls the Congress that passed the law, so that the nation wouldn’t have been shamed that we have a lazy, irresponsible, and incompetent legislature we can’t trust to pass laws? Why didn’t SSS go to town and spend its huge PR budget to explain the issues?

My conspiratorial mind made me think that maybe Aquino had junked Roxas as his candidate and ordered the SSS to keep quiet, for him to make his veto announcement as close as possible to the elections, a torpedo for Roxas’ candidacy.

But the SSS has been Roxas’ turf, really. Other than the newest commissioner Michael Alimurung, formerly assistant executive secretary, the SSS commissioners are controlled by Roxas, starting with its president De Quiros and its chairman, Juan Santos of Hyatt 10 ignominy. Commissioner Diana Pardo-Aguilar was put there in 2010 by Roxas, her being the daughter of his close friend Jose Pardo. Commissioner Ibarra Malonzo, a leader of the Associated Labor Union (ALU) is vice-president of the Liberal Party for Mindanao. Recently appointed commissioner Eva Arcos is Malonzo’s comrade at the ALU. Bienvenido Laguesma was Roxas’ colleague in Joseph Estrada’s Cabinet.

So why didn’t they alert Roxas about this SSS impending pension-hike boo-boo? It’s certainly ironic that a state company Roxas had insisted be put under his aegis, would sabotage his candidacy.

I guess it’s everyman-for-himself now in Aquino’s sinking ship, and the mantra now is his favorite injunction, “Bahala na kayo sa buhay nyo.”

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com

Share.
loading...
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

26 Comments

  1. Shame on Abnoy Presient. He was the one who gave asssurance to the pensioners to increase their pensions during his first SONA.

  2. I am an OFW allotting 1,670 Pesos per month for SSS contribution. From now on I will stop this stupid thing of putting my hard earned money to SSS just to be siphoned by these GREEDY sht sht sht commissioners. Instead I will put the money as Savings on the bank.

  3. Antoninus Mira on

    Congress can override the President’s veto… The blame should be on Congress, not on the President… It is the Congress that has the final say and not him!

  4. Banyagang Makabayan on

    Apology for my comment which is too lang and in truth, copy pasted from my original comment from other broadsheet which I cannot help my self but to share it here;

    –Past and present administration could have done more regarding this issue before hand and the financial management of SSS as a whole, and because only of an Bill in increase in Pensioners benefits is being passed for approval, our Economist kuno President pronounced that SSS is endangered of Bankruptcy. The reason maybe is really because the ineptness and wrong priorities of the Congress and even the Office of the President. If reforms is really the focus of this administration this could have not happened and that the solvency of SSS and it’s stability and balance could have been foreseen even on a long term basis

    The Social Security ACT of 1997/Republic Act. No. 8282, is still in effect and nothing in all of it’s provision has been repealed and stopped into effect,particularly:

    Section 2. Declaration of Policy-. Declaration of Policy. “!It is the policy of the State to establish, develop, promote and perfect a sound and viable tax”exempt social security system suitable to the needs of the people throughout the Philippines which shall promote social justice and provide meaningful protection to members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of disability, sickness, maternity, old age, death, and other contingencies resulting in loss of income or financial burden. Towards this end, the State shall endeavor to extend social security protection to workers and their beneficiaries.

    More over Section 20 and 21 states:

    SEC. 20. Government Contribution.!”!As the contribution of the Government to the operation of the SSS, Congress shall annually appropriate out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the necessary sum or sums to meet the estimated expenses of the SSS for each ensuing year. In addition to this contribution, Congress shall appropriate from time to time such sum or sums as may be needed to assure the maintenance of an adequate working balance of the funds of the SSS as disclosed by suitable periodic actuarial studies to be made of the operations of the SSS.

    SEC. 21. Government Guarantee. The benefits prescribed in this Act shall not be diminished and to guarantee said benefits the Government of the Republic of the Philippines accepts general responsibility for the solvency of the SSS.

    It maybe true that contributions of Members and their Employers may not be totally collected or delayed, but for sure they never stop paying as they are automatically deducted from their pay and this Republic Act 8282 outline all on its sectional provisions regarding the responsibility of Member’s and their Employers the very safeguards regarding these which is up to the SSS management to enhance and utilize and enforce to achieve reasonable if not 100% collection target.

    Contributions of OFW’s since they are encouraged to contribute also as voluntary Members were collected overseas and paid through banks and remittance centers directly on the SSS US dollar account since it was introduced. I knew of it as I happened to work in the late 90’s and early 2000’s in remittance center in Hong Kong with over 100,000 OFWs. Mind you, the process is this: The OFW’s contribution in Philippine Peso amount, e.g. PHP 2,500.00 is purchased in Hong Kong dollar paid to the bank and the HK$ amount is converted to US dollar to be remitted to SSS’ U$ dollar account held in PNB SSS, East Avenue branch. I have no idea now of the present process.

    RA 8282 also provisioned Investment of the Funds from contributions to income generating investments from stocks, bonds and securities to Lending investments. Reasons why there is no concern that SSS could run out of funds.

    Now our greatest concerns is, as SSS members is that the funds of SSS could be part of those funds siphoned for FDAF and DAP allegedly coming mostly from savings, which this administration is notorious of and that’s why SSS top brass and executive had been granted huge benefits and bonuses justifiably because of good performance and the amount was small compared to their projected fallout in granting additional Benefits to SSS Members which should not diminish as prescribed in Section 21 of the RA 8282. In the first place, those SSS executives and employees are deemed Government servants having their own Security System which is the GSIS which would secure of their retirement.

    Is it not fair to consider why the President said “Better be Heartless than careless later” in vetoing the Congress House Bill is because one is, to justify such veto and another is to justify the state of affairs of the Financial Management of SSS which is the Government and his administration is responsible and should be held accountable for. One of the his greatest fears for technical malversation of government funds that would be filed against him when his term ends.

  5. This idea has not been discuss in any tabloid. Why not abolish Social Security and everybody will save billions for paying their salaries , bonuses and operating expenses and no Bankcrupcy. Sell all properties and liquidate all investment and distribute all monies to the contributors which will be thousands of pesos each of us and let us all invest it to mutual funds and earn decent returns and not 1650.00 per month. Everybody happy. Gusto ko happy ka. Abolish SSS. Do you know that the employees of the City of Los Angeles do not contribute to SSS ? They all invest to mutual funds. When they retire , they have decent retirement monies from stocks and bonds.

  6. This fucking bull shit president and all his/her alipores basta sa pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan at sa pangsusuhol sa mga alipores nya approve agad sya, wala syang pakialam kung walang makain o walang pambili ng gamot sa mga sakit nila ang mga matatandang pensyonado, basta sya masaya at wala syang pakialam, BUHAY PA NAMAN KAYO DI BA!

  7. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Look, P-Noy is not for MAR but for GRACE who has disgraced herself. Why, because the disgraced would be easy to pull out should she not follow the whims of P-Noy and partners who are candidates for jail. But, what about MAR? Definitely he will spend his miseries with Korina if ever she stays with him. Those are simple predictions based on what we read and imagine. God bless the Philippines.

    • Banyagang Makabayan on

      You know what, Mar’s Grand Dad and name sake, according to the history of SSS it is the late Pres. Manuel A. Roxas who originally propose the idea for the creation of SSS and eventually it’s establishment in 1957. He should have at least whispered this to his Boss para hindi naman nasayang ang Idea nongLolo niya!

  8. That bill was filed in Congress way back in 2011 and went through scrutiny iin committee hearings. SSS reps were called and attended. Tiglao check your facts. The (hasty) date you are citing is a refiling. Assuming that SSS goes bankrupt or gets into deficit, govt still has the responsibility to subsidize SSS. If it can make sovereign guarantees for foreign debts, why ignore the SSS pensipners?

    • Marie, pls complete or clarify your opininion of to whom/which foreign loan with sovoreign guarantee our government through our taxes is paying for?

  9. Aquino airport, Aquino standards!
    Increasingly the brand Aquino attracts the tag of ‘the world’s worst’ like a magnet attracts iron filings.

    Roll on Senator Manny Pacquaio as chief clown – if he even bothers to turn up. And if he was really interested in The Philippines then he would pay his taxes, and have the decency to campaign rather than ignore the people. Narcissistic, selfish, lazy, and greedy – a perfect fit for the Senate.

    ‘Sometimes you have to give up on somebody, not because you don’t care, but because they just don’t care’.

  10. Orville Manangan on

    This comment deserves to be published in all press media for a lot more people to read and appreciate for its very sensible content. Never mind if it is a great journalistic feat; it is to me a direct expose’ of the mental and moral incompetence of all who worked on this bill.

    • Dont forget the millions of directors fees from companies SSS executives received every monthly meeting. Those came from members money. They squeeze the members and executives collect the juice..

  11. This is just one of the reasons I decided NOT to vote for Roxas. It wil just be a continuation of FRIENDS and PADRINOS in government similar to Pnoy !

    • Same here, I was decided to vote for Mar but he will just continue Pinoy mis management style. No to Mar and no to all Liberal Pary candidates.

  12. 7 million pesos yearly for each SSS Trustee while pensioners have to make do with a measly 2,000 pesos every month or 24,000 a year?!!! WHEN DO WE START THE BLOODY REVOLUTION??!!

  13. Trillanes, who had many questions during the Senate Hearing on Makati’s car park building, suddenly became timid and did not give his inputs on this SSS pension hike.

    Noong kasagsagan ng Makati car park hearing, alam niya kung ano cost per square meter of this and that, etc. ang dami niyang nalalaman. ngayon, sa SSS issue ay tahimik siya.

    • Trillanes is the author of this Bill….this biil was not thoroughly researched it deserved et voila a faux pas

  14. gabriela silang on

    the president’s veto on the sss bill clearly manifests the subservience of both houses of congress and the senators and congressmen are nothing but a bunch of ignorant, vassal, and contemptible morons.
    the millions of pesos wasted on the deliberations of this bill, not to include time, should have been avoided had aquino convened the ledac where he can tell his minions what bills he will sign into law.
    he’d been appraised regularly no doubt by his pllo on the bill yet he let it roll until only to veto it…what a waste!
    but what roiled me the most was a congressman’s opposition to overriding the veto.
    he’s concerned that it might embarrass the president! what the F!!!..
    and you feel no shame after being shamed?
    putangina!