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NATIONAL POLITICAL SCENE:Escudero asks lawmakers to override Pnoy’s veto on SSS pension hike

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is urging his fellow lawmakers to override President Aquino’s veto of legislation granting a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the pension of retired Social Security System (SSS) members.

“It is saddening because our SSS pensioners have waited long enough for this measure,” said Escudero.

“There is no better time than now to have the SSS pension hike bill enacted into law, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate and members of the House of Representatives to do the right thing and vote to override the President’s ill-advised veto of this bill,” he added.

Under Article VI, Section 27 of the 1987 Constitution, Congress can override a presidential veto by passing the bill with a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

“We need to muster the two-thirds majority vote to override the veto. It may be difficult but we will try for the sake of our SSS pensioners,” Escudero pointed out.

In his two separate identical letters to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., President Aquino said that while he recognizes the objective of the measure “to promote the well-being of the country’s private sector retirees, we cannot support the bill in its present form because of its dire financial consequences.”

According to the President, the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike with a corresponding adjustment of the minimum monthly pension would result in “substantial negative income for the SSS.”

House Bill No. 5842, authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, sought to amend the Social Security Act of 1997 by increasing the present minimum pension of P1,200 to P3,200 for retirees with at least 10 years of credited service. For those with over 20 years of credited service, monthly pension will increase from P2,400 to P4,400.

The bill was passed on third reading by the House of Representatives on June 9 last year and was adopted in toto by the Senate on November 9.

Some 1.9 million retirees are expected to benefit from the proposed legislation.

Escudero said the existing monthly SSS pensions are “without question, not enough for seniors to afford their basic needs like shelter, food and medicine.”

“A decent pension would keep the elderly out of poverty and allow them to complete their life journey with dignity and comfort,” Escudero said.#