The House of Representatives, through its committee on government enterprises and privatization, has passed a consolidated measure granting an additional P2,000 hike in the monthly pension of its Social Security System retirees.
It was only in January this year that former President Benigno Aquino III vetoed what would have been a law granting the same increase in the pension of former private-sector employees. Defending the veto, Mr. Aquino said such an increase would cause the bankruptcy of the fund.
Mr. Aquino also conveniently failed to mention that the viability of the SSS fund lies in the prudence of its investment managers who buy shares in different corporations.
Mr. Aquino’s refusal to give in to a populist demand would have been laudable if we did not hear about the outrageous salaries, perks and bonuses of SSS officials.
The perks, specifically, were in stark contrast—ignominious, in fact, compared—to the dire conditions faced by the bulk of SSS pensioners who have to make ends meet with higher costs of living and medication. Many of them, even if they earned considerably well during their productive years, now depend on their dwindling savings or on their children to tide them through.
Some even find themselves still helping their grown children with their finances or acting as surrogate parents to grandchildren left behind by parents who decided to work abroad.
That this administration has expressed an option to achieve inclusive growth gives us hope that Mr. Duterte would not do as his immediate predecessor did.
There is no dearth of actuaries and other professionals who can do the math. They can guide the SSS in ensuring thelife span of its fund without depriving pensioners of a decent quality of life and burdening contributors with additional premiums.
The SSS pension hike is not just any populist matter. It’s a gut issue.
The Senate should follow suit with its own version of the proposed increase, and soon. And then the President should at the very least not stand in the way.