Drilon lauds SSS pension hike, thumbs down premium hike

Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon thumbed down the plan to raise the rate of monthly contribution of Social Security System (SSS) members to finance the Duterte administration’s decision to increase the benefits of its roughly two million pensioners.

“While the executive’s decision to finally grant the long-awaited increase in the pension of SSS retirees is commendable, it should not be used to justify an increase in the premium payment, Drilon said.

Drilon said that such action is contrary to the law. “The SSS is not allowed to raise the premium rates so it can increase benefits.”

Citing Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8282, Drilon said that the law prohibits SSS to recommend increase in benefits that would require an increase in contribution.

“The increase in benefits of our pensioners must not come from a similar increase in the burden shouldered by current SSS contributors. The law is crystal clear in that regard,” Drilon stressed.

Section 4 (2) states that that SSS shall have the powers and duties “to provide for feasible increases in benefits every four (4) years, including the addition of new ones, under such rules and regulations as the Commission may adopt, subject to the approval of the President of the Philippines: Provided, That the actuarial soundness of the reserve fund shall be guaranteed: Provided, further, That such increases in benefits shall not require any increase in the rate of contribution.”

Drilon explained that the SSS can only implement an increase in the benefits of its members, subject to the approval of the President, “if such increase is based on the actuarial soundness of the reserve fund” and as “such shall not require any increase in the rate contribution.”

In a press statement issued by SSS, its chairman Dean Amado Valdez was quoted as having said that, “At the same time, his decision to implement the pension increase with a corresponding contribution hike and increasing the MSC limits supports the continuing reforms in SSS to consider the welfare of the greater population of over 30 million members, who look forward to their own SSS pensions at the time of their retirement.”

Drilon said that while the adjustment in the rate of contribution will take effect by May 2017, it is clear that such action is carried out in order to fund the pension increase.

“The President’s move to help our aging SSS pensioners is laudable, but the executive branch must also ensure that this pension hike will not be used as an excuse to enforce higher contributions from SSS members,” Drilon said.#