Senate Minority Leader Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III urged the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to allow elected officials and their staff to continue remitting voluntary contributions equivalent to 15 years.
He said there seems to be a glaring disparity between the term limits of elected officials and the minimum requirement to qualify for the government’s pension program, noting that this seems to disregard the service rendered by elected officials and their staff.
“I appeal for our local officials and their staff who have served nine years in government but cannot qualify for the pension program due to the 15-year minimum service requirement under Republic Act 8291,” Pimentel said in a statement on Sunday.
“I am saddened to learn that there are so many elected officials and public servants holding temporary and co-terminus status on the national and local levels who would retire without a retirement fund and pension only because they have not met the 15-year minimum service requirement,” Pimentel said.
The senator cited Section 13-A of RA 8291 which states that a member who retires from the service shall be entitled to the retirement benefits provided that he has rendere at least 15 years of service.
“That provision of RA 8291 is very unfair for government employees and elected officials who fall short of the minimum 15-year service required under the law,” he said.
The Constitution provides that local officials such as councilors, mayors, vice-mayors, governors, vice-governors, and congressmen can only be elected for three consecutive terms or a total of nine years.
Meanwhile, senators are elected nationwide by qualified voters to a six-year term and can serve for not more than two consecutive terms or a total of 12 years.
The President and the Vice President have a term of six years with no provision for reelection.
At the grassroots level, he said it is the local chief executives and members of the council who oversee and address the welfare and interests of citizens.
Without their contribution, development and local commerce will not progress.
“I think we can at least give them this consideration to compensate for this critical role,” the senator said.
“Some of these officials and their staffs even left their high-paying jobs in the private sector to join the government service,” he added.
“We should make public service an attractive career for those individuals, especially the youth who want to be involved in legislation and nation-building,” Pimentel added.
Pimentel expressed his willingness to sponsor a law should the GSIS need a legal basis to enable such a proposal.
“I hope the GSIS can look into it and find possible ways to implement that option for local public servants,” he said.