The many sins of SSS against the people

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III must have realized on the second thought that the presidential veto of House Bill No 5842 was a major "faux pas" that generated tremendous backlash from an angry citizenry. That is why Malacañang, in the usual post mortem analysis, has ordered a recomputation of the financial implications of an increase, albeit the increment would be only perhaps one thousand or even five hundred pesos as "consuelo de bobo." Congress is not in the mood of attempting an override of the veto, despite the noises being made by Representative Neri Colmenares. Some quarters are saying that an increase can be effected by a mere resolution by the SSS Commission.

The SSS officials are the ones to be blamed for that veto. They have "poisoned" the mind of the president that such increase in the amount of the retirees' pension would result to the depletion of the SSS Fund or even the total bankruptcy of the state-owned financial institution. They threatened Aquino that he would be blamed if he approved the proposed increase, to the ultimate ruin of the SSS. These technocrats who are inept, lazy, and grossly inefficient could only collect 38 percent of the total collectibles of the institution. And yet, they rewarded themselves with millions of pay, perks, allowances, and bonuses. They are the proximate causes of bankruptcy.

According to Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III of the Presidential Communications Operations Office, based on the study of the SSS, to match the 56 billion to be released for the proposed two thousand pesos, the sum total of what SSS members have to pay must be increased by forty percent to forty-four percent. And, on top of such increase in members' contributions, the national government still has to subsidize the government-owned financial institution. The truth of the matter however is that this institution is grossly mismanaged, with too many top executives who are not doing their job despite their indecently high compensation.

Aside from a Chairman, the SSS has a president who is paid four times higher than the salary of the president of the Philippines, with unlimited funds under his control. There are at least two or three executive vice presidents, nine or ten senior vice presidents, and more than twenty vice presidents and a hundred or so other corporate officials whose salary levels do not at all reflect the financial status of a government institution that is under the brink of financial ruin. The callousness of these officials is unmatched in the annals of SSS history. They even have a PR vice president with an inordinately gargantuan PR bureaucracy that cannot convince the people that the presidential veto was justified or justifiable.

The SSS commission is noted for disapproving claims for death and disability benefits filed by the widows and orphans left behind by SSS members who died in line of duty. The reason for the denials is always the intention to protect the State Insurance Fund under the custody and administration of the SSS. It was in fact subjected to investigation during the time of President Joseph Estrada for investing SSS fund in a small bank that was able to buy a giant banking institution allegedly using the SSS money. There were many other sins that the SSS have committed against the people. And this is the institution that cannot and will not increase the pensions of retiree by a measly sum of two thousand pesos.

The SSS also is noted for condoning the billions of loans by influential borrowers but, on the other hand, is totally heartless in foreclosing mortgages of poor former SSS members who lost their jobs due to retrenchments and lay-offs. I do not know what the SSS commissioners representing labor and employers are doing. They are all mysteriously silent in the face of too many forms of "injustices" in the administration of SSS funds. These people are paid millions for doing nothing but attend useless sessions.

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