For someone who can’t enjoy the privileges of a paying member, reading about hefty bonuses for board officials of the Social Security System (SSS) makes an already depressing situation even more devastating.
Each of the eight board officers of SSS received at least P1 million bonus for “good performance” in 2012, while its 5,000 or so employees shared P276 million, for an average of P55,200 each. Lower-ranked or those rated low by their supervisors may have received much less than the average, while those in the higher positions may have been entitled to more than double.
Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president and chief executive officer, justified the granting of the bonus by citing the pension fund’s net income of P36.2 billion in 2012, which was 42 percent higher than the previous year.
The income came from profits in investments and premium contributions from members employed in the private sector, minus operational expenses and payment of members’ benefits.
News about the bonus came in the heels of a plan to increase members’ contributions starting January 2014.
Whew! Bonus for SSS officials and employees and increased contributions for members don’t make the equation balance.
Aren’t the SSS officials public servants and the members “the Boss?”
De Quiros said the grant of the bonus was legitimate, citing Circular 2012-11 from the Governance Commission for Government-owned and controlled corporations (GCG) that provides a performance-based incentive system. In short, the circular allows the grant of bonus if the corporation is earning.
Okay, it may be legal; but not all legal is moral.
They are getting bonuses while members will have to pay more because SSS doesn’t have enough funds to cover retirement and other benefits after 2039.
Should the income earned last year be used right away to pay for bonuses? Can’t the amount be used for the retirement and benefits fund so that members would not have bigger deduction from their monthly payroll?
SSS is governed by the GCG, an agency under the Office of the President that formulates policies governing operations of state-owned companies. While contributions to the pension fund come from private sector employers and employees, who are supposed to be the fund owners, SSS is run by government-appointed officials.
The SSS board officials may not consider the P1 million bonus hefty because they are moneyed. But to members who belong to the rank-and-file and earn meagre incomes, P1 million is so huge an amount.
If the board members’ bonus was at least P1 million each, they should be receiving an equal amount in monthly honorarium. Wow, how lucky they are!
On the 55th anniversary of SSS in September 2012, President Benigno Aquino 3rd announced that he has approved the granting of P10,000 anniversary bonuses to each of the officials and employees of the Social Security System (SSS) in recognition of the agency’s “pagpapakitang-gilas” in 2011.
De Quiros reported then that the agency collected P46.68 billion in contributions from January to June 2012, higher by nine percent compared with P42.72 billion collections over the same period in 2011.
The SSS posted P25.5 billion net earnings in 2011. That was 11.8 percent higher than the P22.8 billion net income in 2010. Investment income hit P30 billion in 2011, or 7.1 percent more than P28 billion in 2010.
Last year’s bonus was supposed to be a token of gratitude for their “untiring service to the Filipino people.”
If the SSS officials and employees were rewarded for their “sterling performance” in the past years, why do SSS members, whose hard earned money sustain the SSS with their monthly contributions, have to pay more membership dues?
I don’t know if it has reduced the waiting time of at least six months to as long as one year just to get the new SSS membership identification card?
Why do members have to take at least one day leave from work because they have to wait for hours in line to avail themselves of the services of SSS?
In its website, the SSS said it “aims to develop and promote a viable, universal and equitable social security protection scheme through world-class service.”
By world-class service it meant “social security service that is prompt, accurate and courteous shall be provided to ensure total member satisfaction.”
And why do members get penalized for the delinquency of employers who do not remit their contributions and loan amortizations that were automatically deducted from their salaries?
The SSS was created to protect private sector employees against the hazards of disability, sickness, old age, death and other contingencies resulting from the loss on income or financial burden.
Section 22 of the Social Security Act of 1997 or Republic Act No. 8282 said in part that “failure or refusal of the employer to pay or remit the contributions prescribed shall not prejudice the right of the covered employee to the benefits of the coverage.”
But why does the SSS deny loan applications of members whose contributions and previous loan amortizations were deducted by their employers from their monthly salaries — but were later found to have not been remitted to the SSS?
Well, technically, the member with unremitted contributions or loan amortizations can obtain a new loan but he has to pay first the arrears, or to agree to have the sum with penalties deducted from the loanable amount.
Why should the member pay the arrears when the amounts had already been deducted from his compensation? Isn’t that double payment? And it’s unfair.
Asking the employee to sue the delinquent employer is not only time-consuming but also entails costs that may even be more than the amount he wants to borrow.
The SSS law makes it the duty of the employer to remit contributions and loan amortizations without need of any demand by employees. And it is also the duty of the SSS to go after delinquent employers and penalize them, not the employees.
As I understand it, the mandate of the SSS is not limited to collecting monies from members and placing them in investment instruments. It is also tasked to protect its members from abusive employers.
The agency’s reports always highlight the amount it has collected and its investment earnings. I have yet to come across a news report about a delinquent employer was put behind bars for non-remittance of the employees’ contributions.
Well, last March, the SSS president said the state-owned pension fund agency was stepping up efforts to pursue delinquent employers who were not remitting contributions of their employees by filing cases against them.
According to de Quiros, the agency has filed 1,227 cases against delinquent employers in 2011, which was 66 percent more than the 740 cases filed in 2010.
Failure to remit deducted contributions or loan amortizations of employees is a crime equivalent to swindling.
According to the SSS law, any employer who, after deducting the monthly contributions or loan amortizations from his employee’s compensation, did not remit the deducted amount to SSS within 30 days from due date, is presumed to have misappropriated the contribution or loan amortization and should suffer the penalties under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. The penalty is a fine of P5, 000 to P20, 000 and/or imprisonment of six to 20 years.