EDITORIAL: SSS Additional Pension Among Duterte’s Failures



Aware certainly that his six-year term has barely several days to expire, outgoing President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, assisted by his cabinet in full force, has been feverishly drumbeating his achievements, even labeling them as his legacies.


Most prominently cited is his Build Build Build (BBB) program, which has nothing to trumpet about on at least two grounds. Funds for the purpose are drawn from loans obtained offshore and domestically. There is nothing outstanding about that. Future generations are bound to foot the bill. In plain, funds for the purpose are public in nature.


The other feature of BBB consists of public/private partnerships, which in reality do not yield direct benefits to travelers who have to shell out several bucks for the privilege to avail of expressways.


Conveniently sidelined is the failure to make good the full of braggadocio guarantee that the second tranche of the P2,000 additional SSS pension would be enjoyed by pensioners by 2022. Given that Mr. Duterte’s term is to expire come June 30, will the remaining P1,000 be already included among the legacies of the Duterte administration?


This is being asked in the light of the admission by the SSS leadership that indeed the chances of making good the boastful pronouncements look very slim, unless an executive order is issued posthaste.


In relation thereto, officers of the pension agency explained that it has no more funds indeed to release the 2nd tranche of the P2,000 additional pension, taking under consideration that indeed the actuarial fund life of the agency is already drained and Duterte’s full of hot air assurances that the 2nd tranche would be enjoyed by the SSS pensioners starting January, 2022 is not attainable, unless an executive order mandating the release of funds thereto or legislation is passed.


In effect, SSS conveys the message that Mr. Duterte has full control of the SSS vault. Does this mean that while SSS members who have reached the age of maturity in order to enjoy their pensions, are being deprived of the benefits they are legally entitled to?


The pronouncements are pure and simple admission that SSS being an agency mandated to perform as guardians of the premiums paid by the employers and employees are powerless to do so, given the fact that a presidential executive order can consequently take over control and expenditures of the pension funds.


Such situation is very unfair to regularly paying SSS members. In a way, those not paying any contribution to guarantee receipt of pensions upon maturity, are more fortunate given that they have been for some time receiving from the government “ayuda” (Social Amelioration Funds).


Does this mean that citizens who for many long years have been religiously contributing for their eventual pension benefit are being deprived of their privilege as pitted against those who have paid nothing and yet are now entitled to receive benefits that SSS pensioners do not enjoy?


Admittedly all that is practically water under the bridge. It is only hoped that the new administration would be less boastful and be more forthright as against the Duterte regime which as of this day may already be portrayed as being full of failed promises and bare of achievements.


A cross-eyed outlook on unjustly providing social benefits is highlighted in that respect by the unfair treatment of SSS pensioners.