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Rough Cuts | No need to find alibis

The state-run pension fund Social Security System (SSS) reported a net income of P15.3 billion for the first half of 2019. The amount is a 446 percent hike from the P2.8 billion net income of the first half of the year 2018.

The report published in the August 22, 2019 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its business page said the SSS attributed the increase to the implementation of Republic Act No. 11199 which allows the hike in the rate of SSS members monthly contribution to 12 percent of allowable salary credit.

We have no doubt that the governments pension firm for private business employees could have earned as much or even bigger than what its earned during the first half of last year. However, its members may not anymore have the opportunity to know how much was the net income of the SSS for the second half of 2019. It is because in the months when it is supposed to make a report to its members how the pension firm is doing the country got hit by the deadly Corona Virus Disease (CoViD) 19 pandemic.

The government was starting to get extremely preoccupied with finding ways to arrest the spread of the virus and to find money to foot the bills in hundreds of billions of pesos to help the people cope with the health emergency. It has to spare whatever money it can coming from all sources to subsidize the food requirement of the millions of families whose heads suddenly became jobless when the most extreme measure of stopping the grind of the countrys economy was imposed.

Of course the SSS was not excluded in the governments search for emergency funds to be used in responding to the needs of the most number of Filipino families. Other than that the pension firm was, and still is, utilized as conduit in releasing the financial assistance to the various beneficiaries all over the country. Even the private sector workers who suddenly temporarily lost their jobs are getting the assistance due them from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the SSS. Hence, it is understandable that the entire pension firm workforce became even busier responding to the additional load they were mandated to do by the government.

And with the entire nation cowering in fear of the deadly disease and thinking of ways to find food for their next meals no one member of the SSS seems to remember demanding for the SSS second semester net income report.

Even the millions of pensioners somehow forgot, even if temporarily, to badger the SSS of the second P1,000 of the P2,000 increase in their pension as provided by law passed during the early part of the Duterte administration.

Now, it would seem that the SSS need not anymore think of any justification in not releasing the second tranche of P1,000 of the P2,000 increase in monthly pension. The CoViD 19 pandemic has laid it on the pension firms lap. The officials of the state-run pension agency prior to the global health emergency kept on saying that it cannot afford to give the second P1,000 because it will dry up its resources. And that situation would be disastrous to the new members and the next generation of pensioners.

During that time we find it extremely difficult to understand why the pension agency executives were proudly claiming of earning so much, yet suddenly getting cold tongues when asked about the release of the additional P1,000 hike in monthly pension to the country’s pensioners.

Imagine how fast was the SSS in implementing the collection of the additional monthly premiums from members when it was authorized by RA No. 11198! And it was salivating to collect the two additional 1 percentage point increases to the 12 percent authorized in 2018 when these become due in 2021, 2023, and in 2025.

However, with the SSS participation in the governments CoViD 19 response, especially in using some of its resources in funding measures to help the people badly affected by the pandemic, there may be no more reason for us and the pensioners and their families to doubt the legitimacy of the pandemic as the SSS alibi for further delaying the release of the balance of the P2,000 monthly pension hike.

Of course with the further delay of the release, we are certain that many of the pensioners who are supposed to be entitled to the additional P1,000 will not anymore be able to live that long waiting for the measly additional amount. We even believe that some of them already died because of the CoViD pandemic. Isn’t it cautioned by medical experts, that the elderlies are among the most vulnerable sector of the population to be infected by the deadly virus?

We can only hope the SSS executives have retained some of its income in order to accumulate funds for the second P1,000 hike in the monthly pension of private business retired employees. We too are praying for the early disappearance of the CoViD 19 affliction before government resources run dry.

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