Three big labor organizations on Thursday welcomed the “speedy action” of the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises on the proposed P2,000 increase in monthly pension of senior members of the Social Security System (SSS).
Alan Tanjusay, spokesman for the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines-Nagkaisa, said the proposal is badly needed by the SSS pensioners.
“Highly commendable” was how Sony Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers, described the decision of the Senate panel.
Former Rep. Renato Magtubo, who represented Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino in the 14th Congress and now heads Partido ng Manggagawa, said the committee’s action would end long-standing complaint of senior citizens that their monthly SSS pension was too small, even for their medicines.
At present, SSS has a total of 32.5 million members, 1.8 million of whom are senior citizens.
The government corporations and public enterprises committee headed by Sen. Cynthia Villar approved on August 17 Senate Bill (SB) 2879, which called for the pension increase.
The other chamber’s version, House Bill (HB) 5842, principally authored by Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list, was approved more than a month ago.
SB 2879 and HB 5842 sought to amend Republic Act 8282 or the SSS Law.
Under the proposed amendments, the P1,200 monthly SSS pension of retired workers who have 10 credited years of service will receive P3,200 a month and those with 20 credited years of employment would get P4,400 a month.
During the August 17 Senate committee hearing, Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president, opposed the proposal because it would mean increasing contribution from 11 percent to 15 percent and shortening the fund life from year 2042 to year 2029.
Villar disagreed, saying, “After going through the financial state of SSS, we learned that they need to intensify collection efforts. I also suggested not to just focus on big corporations, they should also go after the medium, small and micro enterprises that are not remitting SSS contributions of employees.”
She added that if the national government could “subsidize the poor through the Conditional Cash Transfer Program, I don’t see why we cannot allocate a portion in the General Appropriations Act to subsidize this increase for pensioners.”
“Bakit hindi natin isa-subsidize iyong matatanda na nagtrabaho for 20 years? Hindi naman nila ito hinihingi for nothing [Why don’t we subsidize those who had worked for 20 years? They are not asking it for nothing]. They worked 20 years to deserve this,” Villar said.
“Sila ang magandang bigyan, may listahan talaga, legitimate. Iyong iba nga nating sina-subsidize, hindi natin alam kung sino-sino yun eh [They should be the one to be subsidized, they are legitimate. The others we subsidize, we don’t know who they are],” the senator added.