Vice President Jejomar C. Binay vowed to make pension hike his priority if Congress will not override President Benigno Aquino’s veto of a bill seeking to grant pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) a P2,000 pension increase.
“If Congress will not override the veto, I will give priority to increasing our assistance to SSS pensioners (under my presidency),” Binay said in an interview in Caloocan City.
“It is saddening. It is such a small sum. Why deny them?” he added.
He said a review of the SSS investment portfolio will be part of the reforms that his administration will introduce in the pension fund.
Joey Salgado, spokesman for media affairs department of the Office of the Vice President, said reforming the SSS will be a priority of the Binay administration.
“After six years, it has become apparent that the SSS has failed to introduce reforms that would have addressed the long-festering problem of collection inefficiency, poor customer service and the absence of additional benefits for its members,” he said.
Salgado said the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), which the Vice President used to chair, should be seen “as proof that you can expand benefits, improve services, and shore up financial stability without increasing contribution.”
“It can done. Look at Pag-IBIG today. It is not only the most financially stable government corporation, it is also setting the benchmark in customer service. And all the reforms were introduced during the term of the Vice President,” he added.
He added that the presidential veto, which is being supported by the administration standard bearer, underscores the absence of compassion, especially for senior citizens.
“Our senior citizens have contributed to our economy. The least the administration could do is to show concern for their welfare, including the 1.9 million retired and elderly SSS members,” Salgado said.
“The SSS pension amounts have been unchanged since 1997 and have not been adjusted to inflation. Any increase could augment the rising cost of aging members’ basic living and medical expenses without sacrificing the fund’s long-term viability,” he added.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. also called an end to the SSS impasse, saying both branches of government should find alternative ways to look for a win-win solution to the issue.
Marcos said the more viable solution is for the legislative and executive branches to work together and set aside politics rather than overriding the veto of the President.
“Ang hirap gawin ng override dahil two-thirds (votes) ang kailangan hindi lamang sa
House (of Representatives) kundi pati sa Senado. So, mas maganda kung magkaisa pati ‘yung executive na maghanap ng paraan na pagandahin nga ang koleksyon, mga win-win solution, pagandahin ang investment para kayanin ‘yung P2,000 na dagdag,” he said.
“This should be a wake-up call for the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office which plays a crucial role in making sure that the President and the legislators in both Houses of Congress have proper coordination through proper communication and information dissemination. All these controversy would not have happened if both branches have been properly guided by the PLLO,” Marcos said.
The senator said the SSS should improve its collection and management strategies.