The Philippine Senate approved the third and final reading of the bill granting a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the 1.9 million Social Security System’s (SSS) pensioners’ retirement pay.
Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile was the sole opposition to the passage of House Bill 5842. He believed that the measure will cause the SSS to go bankrupt.
Enrile said the provision in the proposed law that states that the approval of Congress or State to provide funds for the additional benefits is linked to the 2016 elections.
HB 5842 will be amending Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997. The last amendment to the law was 18 years ago under RA 8282.
Once approved, SSS retirees with 20 years of credited service will receive P4,400 every month. Pensioners with 10 years of credited service will get P3,200 every month.
Those who voted in favor of the bill were Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Bam Aquino, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Teofisto Guingona III, Gringo Honasan, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Sergio Osmeña III, Grace Poe, Ralph Recto, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
In 2014, SSS increased the pension by 5%. Retired members found the across-the-board increase inadequate given the rising cost of living.
Senator Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Committee on government corporations and public enterprises, as well as the principal sponsor of HB 5842, said the measure will not increase the members’ contribution. She claimed that SSS has billions of unremitted collections and uncollected premiums, so the organization should improve collection efforts first before increasing the members’ contribution.
The Senate and the Congress will ratify the measure before transmitting the proposed bill to Malacanang for President Aquino’s signature of veto.