Osmeña: P2,000 SSS hike ‘financial suicide,’ if …
While he voted for a P2,000 across-the-board raise for Social Security System (SSS) pensioners, Senator Serge Osmeña III backed its veto by President Benigno Aquino III, saying it would be “financial suicide” if the SSS would have no income to support the increase.
Osmeña was among the 15 senators who approved the bill in the Senate last November. Only Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile voted against it. It was later vetoed by the President.
“Alam mo, tama ang ginawa ni President PNoy na huwag tayong gumastos pag wala tayong income. Lahat naman tayo, ganun naman tayo sa bahay. Yung household budget natin, gagastos ba tayo ng P1,000 kung ang income natin ay P500 lamang? You’re committing financial suicide,” the senator told reporters on Tuesday.
Asked if he thought the President abused his veto power, Osmeña said: “No, he did the right thing.”
“Basta yung sinabi nya, wala tayong source of income, tama ang ginawa nya and even if I’m not a member of the Liberal Party, if he’s correct, I will always defend it,” he said.
Asked again why Congress would approve a bill that is not doable like the SSS pension hike, Osmeña said: “Yun na nga hindi ko maintindihan, you know it’s election session, it’s popular to do and what I’m saying now is not popular, maraming magagalit sa akin but we have to teach them that you now it’s nice to be popular but it’s better to be right.
Osmeña explained that when he voted in favor of the bill, he thought the President would simply direct the SSS directors to raise contributions to support the proposed pension hike.
“Let’s say P100 a month times 30 million members, we’ll get an additional P3 billion or P36 billion a year. Makakatulong na yun. Pero kung walang ganun, mahirap namang batikusin ang ating Presidente kung tama naman ang ginawa nya,” he said.
“So alam ko, very unpopular ang sinabi ko pero I’m sorry but for us to keep our fiscal house in order, we must be able to exercise financial discipline.”
“But this is not the end of it, talagang itutulak ko na ipataas ng P2,000 ang pension but we have to increase the income of the SSS kung hindi in 11 years, SSS is bankrupt at kawawa naman lahat kayo…” the senator added.
In fact, Osmeña said, he signed a resolution in the Senate asking the President to reconsider his veto on the bill while cautioning his colleagues that they would be committing financial suicide if the SSS could not raise its income to support the pension hike.
He said he was also studying the possibility of merging the SSS and the Government Service Insurance System since the latter had a steady income and it was easier to collect contributiosn from its members.
The merger, he said, could be done through legislation but it would need the approval of the county’s financial managers like the Department of Finance, Governance Commission for GOCCs, and the Insurance Commission, among others.
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