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Cebu News

Group claims victory for sparing  SSS, GSIS from Maharlika fund

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Partido Manggagawa has welcomed the decision of the House panel to spare the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from Maharlika Sovereign Wealth Fund’s sources of funds.

But the group maintains that the decision does not absolve Congress as well as the executives of the two pension funds from accountability.

The PM said members’ vigilance and strong opposition were key for this reversal, and thus, should be sustained to prevent future attempts at misappropriating workers’ funds.

“The mere fact that Congress toyed with the idea of creating a wealth fund out of our pension funds is already a red flag. But more reprehensible was the reckless approval of the SSS and GSIS executives to divert funds into the MIF without consulting the fund owners – the Filipino working class,” said Dennis Derige, PM-Cebu spokesperson.

To prevent a repeat of this attempt for fund diversion, PM proposes that a mechanism for consultation - in the minimum regular dialogue with labor groups and in the maximum, a referendum for members - be instituted in the SSS and GSIS manual or system of operations.

Derige, in a statement, explained that fund members were truly disgusted with SSS’ decision because an 11-15% increase in premiums was imposed beginning 2018 on the pretexts that the fund’s life was deteriorating, and members’ benefits need to be enhanced.

Derige recalled that during the public hearings on the 105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave, the SSS claimed the EML can only be funded by an increase in premiums.

“But now we’ve got a surplus for Maharlika,” Derige said.

Earlier, the Nagkaisa Labor coalition where PM is affiliated, countered that a wealth tax is the better source of the sovereign wealth fund (SWF) as they are a real surplus from labor’s productivity that remains concentrated at the hands of wealthy businessmen.

In a separate statement, Akbayan Party said that the recent decision by Congress proves the power of dissent.

“This is an important first victory for the Filipino working class against the Marcos administration, and a resounding rebuke of a measure that would have endangered the future of millions,” it said.

This is why, it said, criticism is essential to a democracy as it does so much more than keep officials in check.

“Let us protect this victory by maintaining our vigilance and resolve. There is a longer struggle ahead. Despite the ongoing economic crisis, proponents of the fund will persist in pushing for its creation and may even reintroduce the vile provisions in some other form. Much work still needs to be done, and there will be more battles that need to be won, especially with another Marcos in power,” Akbayan’s statement further reads. — GMR (FREEMAN)

MAHARLIKA WEALTH FUND

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