The Makabayan Bloc has rallied behind the effort of Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez to look into the finances of the Social Security System in the light of its recent pronouncement that the proposed monthly increase in the pension of senior citizens would result in bankruptcy.
One of the group’s member, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan expressed belief that Congress will be able to reverse the veto of President Benigno Aquino III on House Bill 5842 that was principally authored by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares.
“There is a resounding demand to grant SSS pensioners the much-needed P2,000 increase in their pension. Members of Congress, as elected representatives of their districts and sectors are obliged to respond to this clamor for much-needed relief,” Ilagan said.
Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, filed House Resolution 2638 urging the SSS to disclose its current and real financial standing.
Romualdez said the SSS must be able to provide Congress and the Filipino people cogent reasons that will justify its claims of financial incapability and possible bankruptcy as early as 2029.
Romualdez was among the 75 lawmakers who co-authored the resolution of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares seeking to override the presidential veto on HB 5842 that was approved by the House of Representatives in June 2015 and was adopted in toto by the Senate last November.
In supporting Romualdez, Ilagan said the pension hike which SSS officials estimate to cost an additional P56 billion, can be sourced from foregone revenues from idle assets at P198 million; collections from delinquent employers, P13.5 billion; uncollected revenue as of 2009 at P325 billion; and the P447 billion in assets as of October 2015.
“SSS officials are always quick to claim financial stability and strength every time we question the huge bonuses given to SSS officials. Now that pensioners are asking what is due them, they are painting a picture of doom with claims of being on the brink of bankruptcy, how convenient!,” Ilagan pointed out.
Ilagan also said her group would demand a probe into the appointment of five commissioners of the SSS whose salaries are “very huge” and so the supposed P2,000 monthly pensions of senior citizens are compromised.
She stressed that pensioners need not be made to suffer for the pension fund’s inefficiency.
Ilagan was referring to news reports that Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel Roxas II was branded as “ninong” (godfather) of SSS commissioners Emilio de Quiros Jr., president and CEO, Daniel Edralin, Ibarra Malonzo, Eva Arcos and Eliza Bettina Antonino. Prior to this, a picture of Antonino with LP candidates Roxas and Leni Robredo appeared in the social media.
“We demand full transparency primarily on why and how they became commissioners, their role, and where the incentives they received went,” Ilagan said.
Ilagan also warned the public against voting for Roxas this coming May elections as “he is clearly involved in working against public interest as indicated by his connection to the veto of the pension hike.”
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