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ROUGH CUTS | The SSS is reacting to us

 

 

 

Vic N. Sumalinog

WE are happy to hear that the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCCI) is now in the thick of preparation to help the city’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) recover from the devastation they have suffered due to the raging pandemic.

A 3-strategy plan is being developed to make the recovery happen, according to its current president Ms. Malou G. Monteverde in a statement late last week.


Indeed, the debacle suffered by our businessmen these days is humongous and needs every sector, especially the government, and from their own organized rank’s support. We are dead certain that if the city’s businessmen will adopt the so-called “to-each-his-own” attitude, they’d surely have a hard time recouping from their losses in this still very uncertain era of the global economy.


So we would say that the present leadership of the DCCCII is on the right track in crafting a strategic approach in dealing with the problems of the city’s businessmen. We hope the government will not deny the organization the support it might need from the authorities in terms of economic policies. After all, if the businessmen succeed in their endeavor it is the city’s economy that would be benefitted and eventually the people.


Besides, it is one accepted fact that “together and in unity the possibility of success is strong” as compared to being indifferent to each other; more so if the goal of the efforts is the common good.
So, congratulations President Malou and we wish your organization success in its intentions!


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Last Friday we got a copy of a letter from Fernando F. Nicolas, concurrent acting head, Public Affairs and Special Events and Media Affairs Department of the Social Security System (SSS) in the head office. The letter was a reaction to our column some days back captioned “The ‘shout out’ is getting louder” It was about our observation on the calls of retirees to the SSS to release the remaining P1,000 of the P2,000 pension hike that is provided in a law signed by the President early on his term and remains unreleased until now.

The President’s term ends in 2022.
We also called on the attention of the SSS for its lack of consideration in implementing instead “as provided by RA 11190 authorizing for the gradual hike in the member’s monthly premium even as it delays the implementation of the mandate of the same law that granted the increase of P2,000 in the monthly pension of retirees from private employment.


On the first, he argued against the issue of the maximum 25% monthly premium rate targeted as maximum by the SSS: Yes, we have to admit that we may be wrong on that aspect. It was either we did not hear the newscaster right or that the news writer of the news that was read by the anchorman may have written it incorrectly.

But we do not want to pass on the responsibility to whoever. We have to admit that it was clearly a mistake, whether it was ours or that of the one who prepared the broadcast news report. And we would like to apologize to the SSS for that and to the members who may be unduly disturbed thinking of the huge additional deduction from their monthly pay. We are sorry for that unintentional incorrect figure.


But we would like to dispute the SSS and Mr. Nicolas’ interpretation of the law authorizing both the gradual increase in members’ monthly contribution and the retirees’ monthly pension. It is our humble understanding of the law that when it granted the additional P2,000 hike in monthly retiree’s pension it is to give the amount in full.


The lawmakers were convinced then that since the SSS was likely to be financially undermined if the pension hike of P2,000 will be granted immediately in full, the law allows the release in two tranches, The first P1,000 of course was given in 2017 and the second is the one being hoped for soonest by all the pensioners.


During the deliberation of the bills in both Houses of Congress that eventually evolved into the law that is RA 11199, records will bear us out that the depletion of the SSS funds had been the primary reason why the SSS was not supportive of the passage of the law. That if Congress decides to pass the law, SSS be given the guarantee that its funds will not be undermined so as to assure that members and future retirees get the benefits due them when the time comes.


So perhaps Congress found the reason by the SSS as fair. Thus, the final version of the law granted the agency’s wish to authorize the gradual increase in the member’s monthly premium to the rate specified by Mr. Nicolas in his letter. In other words, it was some kind of an arrangement that for the SSS not to be financially drained by the P2,000 hike in monthly pension, the same law allowed the agency to hike member’s contribution.


So, are we to take Mr. Nicolas’ statement as saying that in the P2,000 hike, only the first P1,000 is guaranteed released by the law and the remaining is dependent on the whim of the SSS? And it is doing such because it would mean shelling out money from the SSS resources.


And what about the increase in the member’s monthly premium, why was the agency quick to refer to the same law that mandates the increase of its implementation of the said provision? Is it because it would mean beefing up its financial viability? What happened to the reason why the SSS is granted authority to hike the premium? The P2 ,000 hike in monthly pension forgotten?


Of course, we do not disagree with the implementation of the new rate. We are only trying to surface the unfairness of the situation. And we are certain we are not alone. The “shout outs“ in social and in mainstream media is getting louder to ignore. Isn’t it something that the SSS must also understand instead of just appealing that it be understood by the public of its immediate implementation of the premium hike? Why can’t it think of the displacement of its members from their employments and their loss of income because of the pandemic?

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