After PhilHealth, suspension of SSS, Pag-IBIG hikes sought | Inquirer News

After PhilHealth, suspension of SSS, Pag-IBIG hikes sought

/ 04:50 AM January 04, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro, a Makabayan bloc lawmaker, is pushing for a deferment of the hike in premium contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund.

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This was after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) to postpone the increase in premium rates and income ceilings supposed to take effect this year.

“This is good but I think we can cite the same reason to also defer the premium hikes of the SSS and the Pag-Ibig Fund. Inflation is still rising, with the first week of 2023 ushering in a big-time oil price hike and a staggering increase in water and power rates,” Castro said on Tuesday.

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The lawmaker said Malacañang can “also write or order the board of directors of the SSS and Pag-Ibig to defer their contribution hikes.”

PhilHealth was scheduled this year to hike its premium from 4 percent to 4.5 percent and the income ceiling of members paying the highest contribution from P 80,000 to P90,000.

Malacañang cited “prevailing socioeconomic challenges” brought about by the pandemic and the need to “provide financial relief” to Filipinos.

Spare workers the ‘burden’

This year, the SSS is due to implement a new contribution rate of 14 percent from the old rate of 13 percent.

Pag-IBIG Fund shall first conduct consultations with employer and labor groups before it implements any contribution increase.

Castro said Filipino workers who contribute to the state insurers “need every peso that they earn to feed their families now.”

“We hope Malacañang and the leadership of SSS and Pag-Ibig will heed this call so that they will not add to the burden of workers for now,” she added.

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Meanwhile the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) lauded the suspension of the PhilHealth premium increase, saying that teachers were heavily burdened by last year’s premium hike from 3 percent to 4 percent.

“We were really hurt financially… amid the soaring inflation in the second half of 2022, [and] the hike was arbitrarily implemented from June to December, including the retroactive collection of premium increases for the months of January to May,” ACT chair Vladimer Quetua said in a statement.

He added: “The increase in PhilHealth premium contributions should not be implemented amid a severe economic crisis, extremely high price of goods and lack of significant wage increase for workers.”

‘Unsatisfactory’ performance

Furthermore, ACT urged the government to “totally scrap” the remaining scheduled increases on PhilHealth premiums until 2025, citing the corporation’s “unsatisfactory” performance.

“Paying higher premiums will never be acceptable to members until PhilHealth services have significantly improved, fund management is straightened and its officials are made accountable,” Quetua said.

Senators also welcomed the suspension of the PhilHealth rates.

Sen. Nancy Binay said the country was still on the path to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the postponement of the increase showed that Mr. Marcos “knows and acts on the needs” of Filipinos.

—WITH REPORTS FROM JANE BAUTISTA AND MELVIN GASCON

RELATED STORIES

Marcos Jr. orders PhilHealth to suspend rate hike in 2023

Premium hike moratorium to help Pinoys cope with inflation, say DOH, PhilHealth

PhilHealth may hike rates when inflation gets to a ‘comfortable level’ – Zubiri

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