Bishop, youth, partylist groups hit Aquino for rejecting law increasing SSS pension

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Social Security System Main Building, Quezon City. Photo courtesy of UNTV
Social Security System Main Building, Quezon City. Photo courtesy of UNTV

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 18Jan2016 (BicolToday.com) – President Benigno Aquino III got scored from a Catholic bishop and the students sector after he rejected the proposed law increasing the monthly take of SSS pensioners of P2.000, online BicolToday.com learned Sunday.
Focusing on Aquino’s anti-poor attitude, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Aquino’s action only shows his lack of empathy for ordinary Filipinos.

“By vetoing the bill for increase of pension of SSS members, PNoy has clearly shown that his program of ‘inclusive growth’ is mere rhetoric,” Pabillo said. “Do we vote those who will continue this anti-poor policy?”

Malacañang reasoned out SSS stability would be compromised if it would allow the additional fee of P2,000 for each of almost two million pensioners.

Magna Carta for the poor also rejected by Aquino

According to Pabillo, this is not the first time Aquino has rejected a measure that aims to uplift the condition of the poor.

“We must remember that PNoy also vetoed the bill on Magna Carta for the Poor,” he said.

The prelate said millions of poor Filipinos needed the measure because it would provide them shelter, livelihood and health services.

Aquino rejected the bill in 2013, saying that the government does not have the money to implement it.

‘Fatter’ SSS pension fund the better

Meanwhile, Makabayan bloc led by Representative Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna partylist does not believe the proposed SSS pension increase will empty the pension fund in the future.

Colmenares suspects Malacanang and the SSS leadership want a “fatter SSS pension fund” than increasing monthly pension.

“SSS and Malacanang are using the “depletion of pension fund” as excuse for depriving pensioners any increase in monthly take,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares is one of the active proponents in the SSS pension hike bill.
The bill was passed by both House and the Senate, and they were awaiting for its signage into law by Aquino.

The final bill was sent to Malacanang last December 2015. On January 12, this year, Aquino vetoed the bill.

Aquino’s rejection took a flak of criticism from various sectors, he was branded “anti-poor, without compassion.”

More SSS money than you think – Anakbayan

In a related development , youth group Anakbayan deplored as “an insult” BS Aquino’s offer of a P500 hike in lieu of the P2,000 SSS pension increase bill that the President vetoed Thursday last week.

“P500 increase is a publicity stunt. Millions of pesos in bonuses are given to SSS officials but they have no money for the senior citizens,” said Anakbayan national chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.

Citing computations made by the Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research or EILER, Crisostomo said that SSS’ huge revenues and reserve funds are more than enough to finance the SSS pension increase.

Crisostomo disputed Malacañang’s claim that the P2,000 SSS pension hike will lead to a P16 to 26 billion annual deficit for the agency.

Data from EILER shows that the yearly members’ contributions and income from investments amount to P160 billion, which is more than the P56 billion projected annual payout for SSS pensioners. On top of these are the SSS investment reserve funds which are pegged at P428 billion as of April 2015.

Crisostomo also scored the Aquino administration for trying to divide the public by trying to set the 2.15 million senior citizen pensioners against the rest of active SSS members which Malacañang said will not benefit from the pension hike. [BicolToday.com]

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