Congress to approve joint resolution on P2,000 increase in SSS pension

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The House of Representatives is set to approve next week the Joint Resolution increasing by P2,000 the monthly pension of the Social Security System (SSS) pensioners under the Social Security Act of 1997 after the measure was passed by the committee on government enterprises and privatization last December 6.

Rep. Jesus N. Sacdalan (1st District, North Cotabato), committee chairman, said he and Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, met last Tuesday and agreed that the second tranche of the SSS pension hike amounting to P1,000 shall be given by the SSS by 2019.

Sacdalan said the proposed Joint Resolutions of the House and the Senate on the P2,000 SSS pension hike have the same contents.

He further said the House approval of the Joint Resolution next week was agreed upon during the caucus of the super majority last Wednesday.

The committee on government enterprises and privatization approved last Nov. 15 House Bill 18 which substituted and consolidated all 17 measures calling for an increase in the SSS pension.

But Sacdalan said the committee opted last Dec. 6 to instead pass a Joint Resolution to ensure speedy approval and implementation of the SSS pension hike proposal. “The approval and implementation of the SSS pension hike might face delay if what we will pursue is the bill,” said Sacdalan.

He said the unnumbered Joint Resolution approved by the committee last week had already been formally filed and will be presented to the plenary next week.

“We will certainly pass it before the holiday break,” Sacdalan assured.

Last month, SSS Chairman Amado Valdez urged the committee to sponsor a joint resolution instead of HB 18 before the plenary session. He said if a law is passed, it would violate the contractual obligation of the SSS with those who are paying the contributions because these are already obligated.

The unnumbered Joint Resolution approved by the committee last week provides that Republic Act No. 8282 or the Social Security Act of 1997 recognizes the policy of the State to “establish, develop, promote, and perfect a sound viable tax-exempt social security system suitable to the needs of the people throughout the Philippines which shall promote social justice and provide meaningful protection to members and their families against the hazards of disability, sickness, maternity, old age, death and other contingencies resulting in loss of income or financial burden.”

As of January 2016, there are about 33 million SSS members and 2.15 million retirees receiving their pensions upon retirement, the Joint Resolution said.

Whereas, considering the escalating cost of living, the meager amount of monthly pension that the SSS pensioners receive is no longer adequate to support even their basic needs, it further states.

“It is an unfortunate reality that the monthly pension from SSS has become insufficient for the monthly food sustenance and maintenance medicines of pensioners who are old and mostly suffering from various medical conditions. Without appropriate and immediate intervention, the SSS would fail in its role to provide basic economic security for the people, curb poverty, provide economic stability, redistribute income and preserve important social and individual values,” the Joint Resolution said.

The Joint Resolution then states that “Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in Congress assembled, to increase the monthly pension of the SSS pensioners the amount of P2,000 under the Social Security Act of 1997.”

“Resolved further that the P2,000 shall be given in two tranches: The first tranche amounting to P1,000 shall be given starting December 2016; and, the second tranche amounting to P1,000 shall be to be extended to the pensioners in December 2019,” it states.

Lastly, it states: “Resolved finally, that the SSS shall implement this Joint Resolution immediately.”

The authors of the Joint Resolution are Sacdalan, Reps. Rozanno Rufino B. Biazon, Alfred D. Vargas, Micaela S. Violago, Rodrigo A. Abellanosa, Tobias “Toby” M. Tiangco, Carlos Isagani T. Zarate, Antonio L. Tinio, Mark A. Villar, Angelina D.L. Tan, M.D., Johnny T. Pimentel, Harlin Neil J. Abayon III, Bernadette “BH” Herrera-Dy, Mark O. Go, Sol Aragones, Vilma Santos-Recto, Gus S. Tambunting, Salvio B. Fortuno, Emmeline Y. Aglipay-Villar, Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, Winston “Winnie” Castelo, Jose T. Panganiban, Rodel M. Batocabe, Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr., Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, Emmi A. de Jesus, France A. Castro, Arlene D. Brosas, Ariel “Ka Ayik” B. Casilao, Sarah Jane I. Elago, and Christopher S. Co. (30)

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