SSS premium hike against the law, says Drilon
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon rejected on Tuesday the government’s plan to raise the rate of the monthly contribution of Social Security System (SSS) members, saying it was against the law.
Drilon was referring to the 1.5 percent increase that the SSS plans to impose on the monthly premium of its members starting May this year to finance the additional P1,000 pension hike for its retirees this January.
“While the executive’s decision to finally grant the long-awaited increase in the pension of SSS retirees is commendable, it should not be used to justify an increase in the premium payment,” he said in a statement.
Such action, Drilon said, was contrary to the law. “The SSS is not allowed to raise the premium rates so it can increase benefits,” he said.
The senator pointed out that under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8282, SSS is prohibited to recommend increase in benefits that would require an increase in contribution.
“The increase in benefits of our pensioners must not come from a similar increase in the burden shouldered by current SSS contributors. The law is crystal clear in that regard,” he said.
Drilon said Section 4 (2) of the law states that that SSS should have the powers and duties “to provide for feasible increases in benefits every four (4) years, including the addition of new ones, under such rules and regulations as the Commission may adopt, subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines: Provided, That the actuarial soundness of the reserve fund shall be guaranteed: Provided, further, That such increases in benefits shall not require any increase in the rate of contribution.”
SSS, he said, can only implement an increase in the benefits of its members, subject to the approval of the President, “if such increase is based on the actuarial soundness of the reserve fund” and as “such shall not require any increase in the rate contribution.”
But while the adjustment in the rate of contribution would take effect in May, Drilon said it was clear that it is carried out in order to fund the pension increase.
“The President’s move to help our aging SSS pensioners is laudable, but the executive branch must also ensure that this pension hike will not be used as an excuse to enforce higher contributions from SSS members,” said the senator, who is also a lawyer and former Justice Secretary.
While he supports the pension hike, Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV said he was surprised that a higher premium would be imposed on SSS members .
“I think marami ring nagulat, pati na rin ang business community. Iyong mga employer nagulat sa pagtaas ng premium na 1.5 percent. Aminado naman tayo na maliit lang ang 1.5 percent pero pag sinuma mo iyon, malaking bagay pa rin iyan,” Aquino said in an interview.
(I think many were surprised as well as the business community. The employers were surprised that the premium would increase by 1.5 percent. We recognized that 1.5 percent is a small amount but if you total the amount, it would be significant.)
Instead of increasing the premium payments of its members, the senator said, SSS should improve its collection efficiency. RAM