Pensioners to suffer due to SSS bungling?
- Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2016 - 9:00am

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino sounded correct when he said that giving an additional P2,000 to each of 10 million Social Security System pensioners could bankrupt the SSS by 2027 – but he did not say that that would happen because his managers continue to bungle the system.

All these years, his SSS managers led by president/CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. could not have been unaware of the financial catastrophe that may result from their continued inefficiency, but what did they do to prevent it?

One notable thing we remember from media reports is that they awarded themselves fat bonuses and allowances.

Defending his boss’ veto of the pension upgrade, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said: “The (P2,000 pension) measure would have pushed the SSS into a fiscal cliff of insolvency. The increased payouts would have shortened the actuarial life of the Social Security Fund from the year 2040 to 2027. It would have also doubled the unfunded liability from P1.2 trillion to P2.4 trillion. The vetoed bill would have granted a pension increase to two million current retirees but imperiled the financial future of 31 million of our prospective retirees. This is about the survival of the fund. Had this bill passed, there would not even be any pension to speak of in a little more than a decade.”

There could have been early remedial measures, some of them requiring legislation, to nourish the sustainability of the system without sacrificing upgraded benefits to members and retirees.

But like in many other areas, the administration failed to fix its priorities and to act early enough. So now we have come to this.

• What they say about the vetoed pension

AS A RETIREE who would have benefited from the P2,000 additional pension that President Aquino vetoed, I step back to share my space with others. For starters, here are items picked from Twitter:

Dean Bocobo @SagadaSun: Enough of PNoy’s heartless bullshit and his kneejerk defenders crap mathematics!

(Above tweet was with clipping: “…the main reason for the insufficient funding of SSS and its inability to fund a pension increase is its extremely inefficient collection of contribution, failure to recover receivables by not prosecuting employers who fail to remit employees’ contribution and the inordinate perks and bonuses the board gives itself in spite of these inefficiencies.”)

Xiao Chua @Xiao_Chua: Legislators thinking of themselves in pushing SSS pension hike.

Joel Pablo Salud, Philippines Graphic: “Pension is not about government handing some dole-out to the pensioner. Social security funds are sourced from the people, literally came from the people’s pockets, and are meant to provide not only financial security to the elderly but dignity during their remaining years…. Better pension stands as the one and only reason why people allow government to rake in some profit using the pensioner’s contributions, not for granting bonuses to their top brass.”

CJ Meilou Sirena @MeilouSirena: Dapat kasi pension, parang taxes, should be automatically adjusted to inflation. If you can’t do it by policy, do it by legislation.

Michel Eldiy @ChiliMedley: If you truly care about SSS contributors and pensioners, the numbers that should matter to you are 38-percent collection efficiency and P1-million/head bonus.

Joel @joelsez: Folk in the private sector, imagine this Monday telling your boss, ‘This year I will collect on 38 percent of our credit receivables....’

(Talking of proper use of personnel and looking for a middle ground between inefficient collection of SSS contributions from errant employers and efficient tax collection from low income earners, President Aquino should appoint SSS president/CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and BIR Commissioner Kim Henares to the SSS.)

the jester-in-exile @jesterinexile: Root cause ng big bonuses could very well be low performance targets.

Edward Victor Tan @Edvictan: @randomsalt Still, pension unchanged since 1997? I hope ganun din gastusin ko, unchanged since 1997. Reforms needed now.

HazelNut @1nutty_hazel: It’s worth the effort to look through SSS expenses. Lalo na ang bonuses. Best time to look is now since spotlight is on them.

el constantino @elrconstantino: It seems that SSS mismanagement is the culprit. Sadly, pensioners are the ones suffering for it.

Maxell @maxell_lander: Fat salaries for Noy’s SSS officials (led by De Quiros, brother of Conrad) but members denied by Noy a P2k increase.

(Above Tweet comes with list of SSS officials and their remuneration, including BOD member Eliza Bettina R. Antonio, with her P5,997,400. De Quiros is not in truncated list.)

Teddy Locsin Jr. @teddyboylocsin: Ang habang listahan ng mga putangina.

• Solons look for pension compromise

SOME lawmakers are thinking of moving to override the presidential veto.

But an override is as remote a possibility as the President firing Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya or his laying himself on the rail tracks to commit suicide for his failure to make good his promise to complete the line to Cavite by 2015.

Still, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said they are looking for ways to address the need for higher pensions for retirees without compromising the fiscal health of the SSS.

A House majority leader from Mandaluyong (sa labas), meanwhile, warned that overriding the veto would embarrass the President! (When has legislation become dependent on lawmakers’ embarrassing the President or not?)

In the Senate, President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto raised the option of executive action, which the law allows. He said:

“For the sake of pensioners, it should not be a choice between meron o wala. If the President finds the P2,000 too high, he could recommend an amount which he thinks is suitable, and supportable by SSS finances; then convey this to the SSS board – whose members are his appointees – for possible implementation through a resolution.”

* * *

ADVISORY: Access past Postscripts archived at www.manilamail.com (if necessary, copy/paste url on address bar). Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Email feedback to dikpascual@gmail.com

ACIRC ALIGN DE QUIROS LEFT PENSION PRESIDENT PRESIDENT AQUINO QUIROS JR. QUOT SSS STRONG
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