Senate OKs P2,000 SSS retirees’ pension increase
With just one negative vote, fifteen senators approved on the third and final reading on Monday a bill that would grant a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of retired Social Security System (SSS) members.
Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was the only senator who voted against the bill. No senator abstained.
“…While we are going to favor present beneficiaries, the cost of this generous grant of across- the-board benefit or additional to their benefits , in the end, it (SSS) will be bankrupted because this is a contributor system and not a social security system guaranteed or funded by the national government,” Enrile said.
“Now, I understand that the argument given is, we’ll let Congress or the state provide the money at that point. That’s a poor statement, poor argument, Mr. President. We’re leaving the future generation of Filipinos to suffer just because we want votes at this time especially during an election year. Thank you,” he added.
Despite Enrile’s objection, the senators voted in favor of House Bill 5842 or the Social Security Act, which seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997.
“The passage of this bill is an early Christmas gift of the Senate to the SSS pensioners, who depend on these pensions for their daily expenses,” Drilon said in a statement.
The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Cynthia Villar, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Chiz Escudero, Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and Deputy Minority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
“Given the rising cost of living, it is high time we give our retirees and their family a monthly pension that will allow them to at least live with dignity,” said Villar, chair of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises and principal sponsor of the bill.
“We must also consider that many of our retired workers, given their old age, have maintenance medicines and special requirements that add to their daily living expenses. Increasing their pension is the least we could do to reward them for decades of hard work,” Villar added.
While a five percent across-the-board pension increase was already provided by the SSS for its retired members in 2014, Villar said the hike was still not enough to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years.
She then cited data from the National Statistical Coordinating Board which pegged the monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P8,022 per month. Poverty threshold refers to the minimum income a family or individual must earn in order to be considered “not poor.”
Villar said the average SSS pensioner receives P3,169, which is below the poverty threshold.
“I do not think that the basis for which the SSS was established – that of promoting social justice and providing meaningful protection to its members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of old age, loss of income, among others – is at work,” she said.
Recto, meanwhile, pointed out that roughly 1.5 million of the SSS pensioners of about 81.5 percent received a monthly pension below P4,000 in 2012. The amount, he said, was less than the daily minimum wage and was below the poverty line set by government.
“The consolidated bill seeks an across-the-board increase of P2,000 on the monthly SSS pension. In effect, those receiving the minimum pension of P1,200 per month will now receive P3,200 under this bill. The average SSS pensioner gets about P3,169 a month. If this bill becomes law, his pension will increase to P5,169,” he said.
Recto said the increase in the monthly SSS pension would not result in underspending since pensioners would spend their money and boost the domestic economy. JE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.