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Rough Cuts: The President must be informed

One of the first pro-people actions by President Rodrigo Duterte after he assumed was his having Congress reintroduced the bill granting P2,000 additional monthly pension benefits to Filipino private company retirees.

After the Lower House and the Senate passed their versions and came up with a harmonized one the bill was passed and was signed into law soon after by the President. But before Duterte’s term however, a similar bill was introduced in Congress and passed into law. But it was a source of great disappointment to the hundreds of thousands of pensioners when then President Benigno Simeon Aquino III vetoed it for the reason that its implementation will shorten the life of the Social Security System (SSS) pension fund.

When the bill was reenacted into law during the first year of President Duterte there was rejoicing. For who among the pensioners and their immediate family members would not be happy of what the first installment of P1,000 of the P2,000 hike in monthly pension could tie them over with? And with the commitment to release the next tranche of P1,000 within a year or two thereafter, every retiree was full of hope for their better retirement days ahead.

But apparently, the pension hike beneficiaries seem headed to another bout of unnerving disappointment. They are already entering the third year of waiting for the second installment of the pension increase and the release has remained a hazy vision in a mist-laden horizon.

And this is happening even as the administration is in the initial stages of implementing yet another supposed pro-people initiative – the Expanded Maternity Leave Law for women workers.

Under Republic Act 11210 working mothers are given 105 paid maternity leave instead of the previous 60 days only. The same law also raises to 15 days the Paternity Leave of husbands from the previous seven days.

In a recent interview with a television network, the SSS President and Chief Executive Officer said the pension agency has to necessarily increase members’ and employers’ contribution if it has to avert the possibility of exhausting sooner the pool of funds for active members’ and retirees’ benefits.

This development, somehow, is creating a grim scenario of the possible meltdown of the remaining P1000 of the P2000 additional monthly pension for retirees. Why, because time and again the SSS has been vocal of its fear of faster depletion of the retirees’ pension fund.

In other words, one pro-people law churned out by Congress under the present dispensation tending to benefit a sector of the country’s working population is also seen to be the possible cause of the deprivation of another sector, the aging retirees.

We believe that perhaps there is need for the President’s economic managers to present to him this existing scenario in the country’s working and retirees’ sectors. Failure to brief the President of the situation beyond Malacanang’s wall and of his cordon sanitaire could leave him only counting the good things he have done and not the negative impact of the many pro-people policies he had caused implemented.

Certainly no one would want the President to lose the momentum of his continuing high trust ratings in performance surveys.
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Here is our wild forecast of the candidates for councilors in the third district of Davao City who will likely be vying for the top four of the eight-slot race.

The top 1 could be a toss-up between come-backing council bet Nonoy Al-ag and former third district congressman Alberto Ungab. The former has history of topping the contest during his previous stints plus his charisma, while the latter also has his name, resources, and organization. Breathing closely on their necks could be another come-backing council bet Myrna Dalodo-Ortiz and re-electionist Jesus “Cocoy” Zozobrado III.

Those who will be closely crowding for the remaining 4 slots would be re-electionists Dr. Joselle Villafuerte, lawyer Petite Principe, young Advincula daughter, and former barangay captains Abay Bargamento and Edgar Clarion.

We have this feeling that their ranks in the final count would be determined with very insignificant vote leads.

As for the results of the council derby in the first and second districts of the city we can depend on our assumption that the name recall game will determine the final outcome. So, the re-electionists will surely have the advantage. There is also that big possibility that new-comers bearing the family names of their parents, spouse, sibling who were former council members, or their ethnic roots and even age, could potentially alter the result.

That is why we have observed that the reelectionists in the two districts are not playing it cool. They are campaigning minus any semblance of complacency.

Of course the waiting is barely four to five days when the final vote shall have been counted.

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