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SSS premium hike questioned

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SSS premium hike questioned

CALL FOR ACTION Militants have formonths been demanding the implementation of a P2,000 increase in Social Security System pensions during pickets outside the agency’s main office on East Avenue in Quezon City. —LYN RILLON

CALL FOR ACTION Militants have for months been demanding the implementation of a P2,000 increase in Social
Security System pensions during pickets outside the agency’s main office on East Avenue in Quezon City. —LYN RILLON

Not so fast.

Several lawmakers said the Social Security System (SSS) would violate the law if it increased the monthly contributions of  members so it could raise the pension of some 2.2 million retirees.

A day after President Duterte gave the SSS the go-signal to grant a P1,000 increase in pension effective January, Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said the move was “commendable” but “should not be used to justify an increase in the premium payment.”

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“The SSS is not allowed to raise the premium rates so it can increase benefits,” Drilon said in a statement.

Social Security Law

SSS Chair Amado Valdez said the P1,000 pension increase required a corresponding increase in the monthly contributions of active members from 11 percent to 12.5 percent. The increase in premium, to be shared by employees and their employers, will take effect in May.

Drilon said Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8282, or the Social Security Law, prohibited the SSS from recommending an increase in benefits that would require an upward adjustment 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.

Section 4 (2) of the Social Security Law states that the “SSS shall have the powers and duties to provide feasible increases in benefits every four 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 funds shall be guaranteed: Provided, further, that such increases in benefits shall not require in the rate of contribution.”

Sen. Bam Aquino said the increase in the premium payments by members surprised him and the business community.  “While the 1.5-percent increase is small but when you sum it all, it is a big thing,” he said.

Aquino said he favored the SSS improving its efficiency in collecting contributions “and not increase the premium of members.”

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Welcome statements

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III welcomed the increase in pension.

“The mere fact that it took time for the President to approve the said amount means that the issue has been studied well and the SSS fund is not put in any jeopardy even after the increase,” Pimentel said in a text message.

Sen. Richard Gordon said the pension increase was “very much” welcomed by pensioners.

In a statement, Gordon said the Senate would have to provide “appropriate legislation to help the SSS become an even more outstanding manager of the fund so that it could expand its membership, maximize the use of its assets and invest

the funds in projects that would ensure a healthy return on investments.”

The Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises of Gordon earlier came out with a resolution seeking a P2,000 increase in the pension of retirees, the first P1,000 to be given supposedly last December and the second P1,000 in 2019.

House legislation

In the House of Representatives, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said Congress could still pursue enabling legislation for the P2,000 increase in pension for SSS retirees even though President Duterte had approved the hike.

Fariñas said the House was poised to take up on third reading Joint Resolution No. 10 raising the SSS monthly pension, and House Bill No. 2158 rationalizing and expanding the powers of the Social Security Commission.

Both measures were passed by the chamber on second reading last month.

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TAGS: Amado Valdez, pension hike, Philippine news updates, President Duterte, Social Security System
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