Press Release
November 9, 2015

Senate approves bill granting 2k-hike SSS monthly pension

Good news for the estimated 1.9 million pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS): The Senate today approved on final reading a bill which seeks to grant an across the board P2,000 increase in their monthly pension.

House Bill 5842, or the Social Security Act, seeks to amend Section 12 of Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1997. The latest amendment to the law was 18 years ago under RA 8282.

The bill was approved with 15 affirmative votes, one negative vote by Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile and zero abstention. Enrile said he was against the bill because the granting of the "generous benefit" to SSS pensioners would eventually lead to the "bankruptcy of the SSS."

House Bill 5842 was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Cynthia Villar, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senators Teofisto "TG" Guingona III, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Chiz Escudero, Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada, Ferdinand "Bongbong Marcos Jr. and Deputy Minority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto,III.

Villar, chair of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and principal sponsor of HB 5842, said "given the rising cost of living, it is high time we give our retirees and their family a monthly pension that will allow them to at least live with dignity."

"The passage of this bill is an early Christmas gift of the Senate to the SSS pensioners, who depend on these pensions for their daily expenses," Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said.

"We must also consider that many of our retired workers, given their old age, have maintenance medicines and special requirements that add to their daily living expenses. Increasing their pension is the least we could do to reward them for decades of hardwork ," Villar added.

At the House of Representatives, the bill was introduced by Representatives Neri Colmenares, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Mark Villar, Jesus Sacdalan, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Cresente Paez, Agapito Guanlao, Edgardo Masongsong, Leah Paquiz and Antonio Tinio.

"While the SSS provided a five percent across-the-board pension increase for its retired members in 2014, it is admitted that such five percent increase is definitely inadequate and not sufficient to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years," Villar said.

Villar cited data from the National Statistical Coordinating Board which pegged monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P8,022 per month.

Poverty threshold refers to the minimum income a family or individual must earn in order to be considered "not poor." Villar said that the average SSS pensioner receives P3,169, which is below the poverty threshold.

"I do not think that the basis for which the SSS was established - that of promoting social justice and providing meaningful protection to its members and their beneficiaries against the hazards of old age, loss of income, among others - is at work," Villar said.

For his part, Recto said roughly 1.5 million of the SSS pensioners of about 81.5 percent received a monthly pension below P4,000 in 2012. The amount is less than the daily minimum wage and was below the poverty line set by government.

"The consolidated bill seeks an across-the-board increase of P2,000 on the monthly SSS pension. In effect, those receiving the minimum pension of P1,200 per month will now receive P3,200 under this bill. The average SSS pensioner gets about P3,169 a month. If this bill becomes law, his pension will increase to P5,169," he added.

Recto said the increase in monthly SSS pension will not result in underspending since pensioners will spend their money and boost the domestic economy.

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