Not only SSS but 19 other state firms gave bonuses
In spite of widespread public outrage, the presidential body tasked with overseeing the pay and perks of state corporations justified Monday the bonuses that the Social Security System (SSS) had rewarded its managers while ramping up contributions of members, noting that 19 other state corporations have also handed out such management windfalls.
Paolo Salvosa, the spokesman of the Governance Commission for Government Owned or Controlled Corporations (GCG), talked to reporters after the panel members went to Malacañang to defend the much-maligned P1 million that the SSS board, headed by Emilio S. de Quiros as president and vice chair, ordered for each of its directors.
De Quiros announced at the same time that employees’ contributions to the SSS would be increased by 0.6 percent, raising their monthly salary contributions from 10.4 to 11 percent.
He said this would stretch pension funding capability “to perpetuity.” He indicated further increases in premiums were forthcoming.
The SSS chief has been roundly criticized, among others, for taking trips abroad, first class, all expenses paid, every two months since he took over the pension agency.
Salvosa said executives of 20 government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs), including the SSS, had been granted bonuses for hitting at least 90 percent of their income target in 2012.
TV Patrol reported that among these corporations were Development Bank of the Philippines (P10.56 million), Government Service Insurance System (P10.448 million), SSS (P9.392 million) and Land Bank of the Philippines (P7.854 million).
At least nine other state firms have pending requests for bonuses, including the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Local Water Utilities Administration.
Salvosa told reporters that the SSS management had met revenue targets and that the bonus was approved by the commission amid a nationwide outcry against raids on government coffers following revelations of a P10-billion racket that diverted government funds meant to uplift the rural poor and typhoon victims.
Profit for pension, not bonus
Former Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. has slammed the bonus, saying in his Twitter account, “the purpose of profits is so you can pay pensions for it, gago (stupid).”
Salvosa told reporters that the GCG had approved the release of similar incentives to 19 other GOCCs for meeting their self-imposed targets for last year. He could not recall the names of the other lucky GOCCs.
He said it was “moral” to have a system that rewarded the best and brightest citizens who joined the public service and that it was wrong to assume that these bonuses came from members’ contributions that the board wanted to jack up this year.
“One hundred percent of members’ contributions still go to the service and benefits of SSS members. The GCG will not issue any authorization if such bonus is immoral. If they did something to increase the fund of the SSS, they should be given compensation but it should always be reasonable,” said Salvosa in Filipino.
Salvosa, however, refused to weigh in on the morality of raising SSS premiums while stuffing the pockets of its directors with perks. “That issue should be addressed to the SSS itself because it is not the mandate of the GCG to tell the GOCCs how to run their business.”
“If we will force them to fix all problems in just one year, we might not be able to give recognition to their good performance ever,” he added.
Based on his explanation, Salvosa said the SSS board members deserved their bonuses because they at least attended the meetings to earn an extra P1 million unlike the previous administration where the board members earned the same bonanza regardless of their attendance and their performance.
Aside from being opaque in its bonus system, Salvosa pointed out that the previous administration tolerated the practice of directors pocketing the dividends of the stock options and board perks of private corporations partially owned by the GOCCs. He said this administration had stopped this practice as all stock options were not remitted to the GOCCs.
The GCG is an initiative of the President which started in late 2011 to end the excesses of presidential appointees in GOCC boards in the previous administration. It covers a total of 123 GOCCs where board directors are limited to compensation solely from per diems for attending a meeting—ranging from P24,000 to P40,000 each for major corporations such as the SSS—and other perks tied to corporate performance.