The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a bill granting President Rodrigo Duterte the power to suspend the scheduled increases in contribution rates of the Social Security System (SSS) “in times of national emergencies.”
The chamber approved House Bill 8512 through a voice voting. The bill, principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, amends the Social Security Act of 2018 providing for the gradual increases in the monthly premium contributions of SSS members.
The Social Security Act of 2018 mandates a one percent increase in the contribution of its members this year, bringing the monthly contribution rate to 13 percent.
The bill provides that the President, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Department of Health and the Department of Finance as chairpersons of SSS, shall be empowered “to suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies when public interest so requires.”
Velasco earlier warned that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members would “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”
He noted that as of October 2020, the unemployment rate in the country still stood at 8.7 percent, which is equivalent to 3.8 million Filipinos in the labor force.
According to the House leader, Filipinos have barely recovered from the losses and difficulties brought by COVID-19.
“Even today, while some restrictions may have been lifted, most livelihood, businesses, and other sources of income remain shuttered and closed, while many Filipinos remain unemployed,” he lamented.
The House is expected to pass the bill on third and final reading next week.