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The Senate on Monday voted 15-1 to approve on third and final reading the bill granting P2,000 across-the-board increase in the retirement pay of 1.9 million Social Security System (SSS) pensioners.
Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was the only opposition to the passage of House Bill 5842, as he believed the proposed measure will cause the SSS to go bankrupt.
"This is going to distort our Social Security System," he said in a speech. "While we are going to favor present beneficiaries because of this generous grant of across the board benefit, in the end it will cause the bankruptcy of SSS."
He said the provision in the proposed law that states that the Congress or State will provide funds for the additional benefits is a "fool statement or argument." He also linked the approval of the bill to the 2016 elections.
“We are leaving the future generation of Filipinos to suffer just because we want votes at this time, especially during an election year,” said Enrile.
HB 5842, which the Senate approved on second reading Wednesday last week, seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997. The last amendment to the law was 18 years ago under RA 8282.
Once approved, SSS retirees with 20 years of credited service will receive P4,400 every month from the current P2,400, while pensioners with 10 years of credited service will get P3,200 every month from the existing P1,200.
Those who voted in favor of the bill were Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmeña III, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
In 2014, SSS effected a five-percent across-the-board pension increase, which retired members found inadequate given the rising cost of living.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Committee on government corporations and public enterprises and principal sponsor of House Bill No. 5842, said the measure should not cause an increase in the members’ contribution.
"SSS has billions of unremitted collections and uncollected premiums. They should at least improve their collection efforts first, before thinking of increasing members’ contribution,” Villar, a former congresswoman, earlier said.
There is no need to convene a bicameral conference committee as the Senate adopted the House version of the bill. Both houses just need to ratify the measure before transmitting it to Malacañang for the signature of veto of the President. —KBK, GMA News
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