ADMINISTRATION standard bearer Manuel Roxas II defended his former chief-of-staff, Eliza Antonino, whose seven-figure salary as commissioner of the Social Security System came under heavy criticism after President Benigno Aquino III vetoed a bill to raise monthly pensions by P2,000 a month for retirees.
“Regarding the photo being circulated online, it is not true that she receives that amount. Executive Order No. 24 prescribes rules to govern compensation of Board of Directors/Trustees in government-owned and/or -controlled corporations and government financial institutions. It is clear that the maximum a member can receive (for Class A GOCCs) is P960,000 per year. Anything above that is remitted to the GOCC,” Roxas said on his Twitter account.
In Roxas’ Facebook campaign page, the presidential aspirant’s camp wrote: “Don’t believe everything you read in social media. Enemies of good governance will fabricate stories just to discredit PNoy, Mar Roxas and their allies. Read, ask and research.”
Antonino’s hefty earnings came to light after a table of the alleged salaries received by SSS officials went viral, weakening Malacañang’s claim that the proposed P2,000 pension hike would cause the government agency to bankrupt.
The table erroneously suggested that Antonino, with a salary of P5.99 million in 2014, earned more than SSS chairperson Emilio de Quiros Jr. who was shown to have earned only P2.65 million.
A check with the Commission on Audit showed that De Quiros actually earned P6.8 million, higher than Antonino’s salary of P5.99 million.
Official COA reports also showed that Antonino, as SSS commissioner, earned P1.3 million in 2011; P1.244 million in 2012; P2.373 million in 2013; and P5.997 million in 2014.
Roxas said Antonino, who graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration in 2000, was a successful businesswoman in the food and beverage industry before joining SSS in 2010.
There is no information on this business experience, however, in any of Antonino’s online resumes, including the one on Bloomberg.
Some time between 2004 and 2010, she also served as Roxas’ chief of staff while he was still a senator.
Since she was appointed SSS commissioner in 2010, she represented the pension fund in the boards of Philex Mining Corp. and Union Bank of the Philippines.
Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares earlier accused the administration of being callous and heartless for vetoing the pension hike while continuously granting huge salaries and “exorbitant bonuses” to SSS officials.
“SSS should cut down on exorbitant bonuses to its board members. It cannot claim that the SSS lack funds to support a pension increase but awarded its board members with more than P1 million bonus each in 2012,” Colmenares said.