Aquino not eager to sign bill increasing SSS pensions

  • President Benigno Aquino III is not keen on signing House Bill No. 5842 which grants a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pensions of  Social Security System members
  • The SSS pension hike bill has been sitting on Aquino’s table for nearly two months
  • Neri Colmenares urges Aquino to sign the bill increasing the pensions for senior citizens

MANILA – President Benigno Aquino III is still not keen on signing into law the bill which grants a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pensions of  Social Security System members.

Once enacted into law, the minimum monthly pension will increase to P3,200 from the current P1,200 for SSS members with at least 10 credited years of services.

House Bill No. 5842 has been approved by both houses of Congress and has been sitting on Aquino’s desk since last month. However, Presidential Communication Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said the government should study it further.

According to an article on GMA News, Quezon said in an interview on state-run dzRB,: “…Wala pang information kung nasaan o ano ang magaganap on the part of the President.”

(We have no information yet where it is or what will happen on the part of the President.)

According to Quezon, they want to increase the pension but the administration needs to look at its implications in the future and not only in the present. Quezon added that they are looking into some sort of middle point with regards to the issue.

“We all want to increase the pension that we will receive from the dues we pay to the SSS, but we are not alone… We also need to think about those individuals down the road. So we are still studying it. Maybe we can hope that some sort of compromise will be reached. But at this point, there is no information yet on where and what will happen on the part of the President,” Quezon said.

According to Quezon, if the SSS pension will abruptly increase, the lifespan of SSS will decrease. He expounded that the future of the SSS is riding on the issue.

“Kung biglaang itataas ito, iiksi ang buhay ng SSS… Ang nakataya dito, yung future life expectancy kumbaga ng SSS,” he explained.

(If we increase the pension, there is a possibility that there will be implications on the future of the SSS… The future, the life expectancy of the SSS is at stake here.)

According to the article written by Sara Susan D. Fabunan of The Standard, the bill was passed on third reading by the House of Representatives on June 9, 2015 and was adopted by the Senate on November 9, 2015. The bill was transmitted to Malacañang for the president’s signature in the middle of December. However, Aquino’s next moves have been unclear regarding the said bill.

The president has 30 days, or has until mid-March, to sign the bill into law. But, if the bill remains unsigned by Aquino after 30 days, it will automatically become a law. However, Aquino can also veto the bill and Congress will have to override the veto via a two-thirds majority.

Quezon, however, said that we should wait as time has not yet ran out, according to a report by Madel Sabater-Namit of the Manila Bulletin.

“Let’s wait. Hindi pa naman ubos yung oras, talagang kailangan seryosong pag-isipan ito dahil babalansehin ang interes ng ating mga kababayan ngayon at sa darating pa,” Quezon concluded.

(The time is not yet up and we need to seriously review it to balance the interest of our citizens now and in the future.)

Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna has been doggedly urging Aquino to sign the SSS pension hike bill into law.

“An increase in the SSS pension is long overdue, and, we strongly urge President Aquino to sign the pension hike immediately. The very low minimum pension violates the mandate of the SSS of promoting promote social justice and provide meaningful protection for its members,” Rep. Neri Colmenares said.

“For the sake of our pensioners, we hope that the bill will pass its final hurdle. As 2016 starts, President Aquino can certainly make very good news for our senior citizens by finally setting his hand on HB 5842,” he added.