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ROUGH CUTS | A challenge for Senator Go to pick up

WE were at our Catalunan Grande house yesterday to write and email our column for this newspaper’s issue today. This is actually our travail these days while waiting for the availability of internet connection in our rural residence where we are currently holed up due to the still raging CoViD 19 pandemic.

Before we were able to take over the computer unit from our grandchild who was having her on-line class, we decided to take a quick look at our mobile phone which incidentally we had not keyed on when we left our farm house.

Lo and behold, signals of incoming posts and messages dominated right after we opened the gadget. And yes, there were plenty of posts and messages from our Facebook friends. But the ones that caught our attention were those regarding a report supposedly aired at Metro Manila-based radio dzBB saying that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Social Security System (SSS) to release the second P1,000 of the 2-tranche P2000 additional monthly pension benefits of retired private employees.

That post was virtually rained with comments and reactions. Some were sarcastic, others were showing welcome and hope for its truth and not its being one of those fake news now common fares in social media platforms.

Then as we scrolled down the varying reactions we came into another even more encouraging post – that the SSS has already started downloading the funds for the additional P1000 monthly pension benefits to its partner banks where the pensioners can withdraw their money.

But in-between those encouraging posts there were also related posts coming from netizens pleading for their fellow retirees to join a newly launched movement. The objective of the initiative, according to the posts, is to force the SSS to comply with the directive of the law signed by the President in 2017 giving the P2000 additional amount to the monthly pension, the initial P1000 of which was released on that same year with the second P1000 set for release last year yet. But the SSS has insulated itself with hundreds of reasons to stall the release.

Of course we could easily sense that those who posted messages of welcome for the development outnumbered those who manifested pessimism.

But taking all the reports, the comments and reactions and putting them together, there seems to surface the elements that indicate the earlier posts on the Presidential order and the supposed compliance by the SSS of the directive to release the second P1000 are FAKE news.

Of course there is still that dictum on how truth comes out. That is, the saying, “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Meaning, the SSS pensioners will know whether the Facebook posts are true or fake when they go to the bank and withdraw what is due them from the SSS starting this month.

And assuming that the suspicion of many that the reports are actually a major hoax on the already long suffering SSS pensioners, we can see this situation as another opportunity for one hardworking neophyte senator to intervene.

We are referring to Davaoeno senator Lawrence “Bong” Go who has, this early in his term, showed what his colleagues in the Senate do not have.

Yes, maybe Senator Go who has unlimited access to the President, can take stock of all the grievances of the pensioners whose present “take home” pension cannot even take them back home when they go to the bank to collect it.

We have no doubt that Senator Go can, and is willing to personally let the President know that his desire to raise the lot of the ageing pensioners has not been correspondingly responded to by the SSS. The young senator knows the President’s heart bleeds for the disadvantaged, among them the majority of the SSS pensioners.

However, we have this suspicion that the President is kept in the dark as to the status of the second tranche of the P2000 additional monthly SSS pension. Either, he is too busy in complying with all the gargantuan responsibilities of his office at the same time attending to the problems of the country; or his cordon sanitaire is able to isolate him from the SSS issue so as not to add to his all too many woes.

This is the challenge that we can be sure the millions of pensioners can put on the lap of the Davaoeno solon for him to pick up and carry directly right to the President’s attention. And once the senator is able to do this we have no doubt the President will act on it with dispatch.

And why not, when he has even made Congress close a giant and very politically influential broadcast network for violations of provisions in its franchise?

Hence, it would be one big irony if the President cannot prod the SSS, a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), into complying with the mandate of the law.

Of course, we can understand the situation of the SSS especially in this time of a global crisis that has floored the world’s economy. The government corporation may also be suffering from a huge decrease in their premium collections.

But it is our take that the agency has planned for such contingency. Thus, it has long worked on the accumulation of assets and made huge investments in global and national businesses. The agency therefore, can still be assured of fund stability for the next two or three years, the release of the additional P1000 notwithstanding.

So why further extend the crucifixion of the pensioners up to an undetermined period of time? And to think that it is the pensioner’s money they invested for their retirement years during the long period that they’ve been working in private companies!

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