Press Release
August 26, 2015

Villar sponsors committee report on bill increasing SSS pension by P2,000

Sen. Cynthia Villar today sponsored the committee report on the bill granting P2,000 across-the-board increase in Social Security System (SSS) pension.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, said the bill will benefit 1.9 million SSS pensioners who have worked and remitted premiums for 10 to 20 years.

"I ask our colleagues to pass this bill before we get distracted by the start of filing of candidacy and to adopt without amendment the version passed by the lower house and do away with the holding of the bicameral conference committee," Villar said.

About 100 senior citizens and retired persons were in the audience when Villar delivered her sponsorship speech at the Senate Session Hall.

The House of Representatives passed on third reading House Bill No. 5842 or an act mandating a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension with corresponding adjustment on the minimum monthly pension under the SSS, amending for the purpose Section 12 of R. A. No. 1161, which is authored by Rep. Neri Colmenares and Las Pinas Rep. Mark Villar, among others.

The Senate version was authored by Villar, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senators Teofisto Guingona III, JV Ejercito, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Jinggoy Estrada and Antonio Trillanes IV.

In sponsoring Committee Report 213, Villar said the 5 percent across-the-board pension increase in 2014, "is definitely inadequate and not sufficient to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years."

"Kasi sa tinatanggap na monthly pension ng ating mga retiradong manggagawa na minimum of between P1,200 and P2,400, mabibilang sila sa mga Pilipinong living below the poverty line. In fact, kahit na dagdagan pa ang kanilang monthly pension ng P2,000 ayon sa ating rekomendasyon, hindi pa rin nila malalampasan ang poverty threshold. As such, they will still be labeled as 'poor,'" she stressed.

As per the latest data from National Statistical Coordination Board, the monthly poverty threshold for a family of five is an average income of around P8,000 per month.

"Ibig sabihin, matapos magtrabaho ang mga pribadong manggagawa ng 20 taon, kapag sila ay retirado na, marami sa kanila, na aasa na lang sa monthly pension nila, ay mamumuhay below the poverty line. Medyo nakakalungkot naman ang hahantungan ng mga empleyado sa ating bansa," she added.

The Nacionalista Party senator also pointed out that the monthly pension of retirees is almost comparable to the subsidy given to the poor under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or conditional cash transfer (CCT) amounting to P1,400 a month.

"It is a sad reality that majority of retired workers in our country rely solely on their monthly pension for their upkeep. On a daily basis, it would barely cover for their sustenance. Kulang pa siguro sa pagkain nila iyon. We must also consider that many of them, given their old age, may even have maintenance medicines and special requirements that add to their daily living expenses," she said.

Villar was also quick to shoot down the proposal of SSS to increase members' contribution from 11 percent to 15 percent to be able to fund the pension hike up to year 2042.

"SSS has billions of unremitted collections and uncollected premiums. They should at least improve their collection efforts first, before thinking of increasing members' contribution--which seems to be the easiest thing to do for them," she said.

Villar also posed the possibility of SSS asking for government subsidy, considering that the proposed pension hike will amount to only P49 billion as opposed to the P62.6 billion budget under the CCT program.

"I think our retired workers or pensioners deserve subsidy from the government, in the same way that the recipients of CCT grants do. Kung iyong mga hindi nagtatrabaho ay sina-subsidize natin, dapat din naman siguro na ang mga nagtrabaho at nagserbisyo sa atin ay i-subsidize rin," she said.

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