Increasing the monthly contribution of active members of the Social Security System (SSS) to shore up the pension fund and allow a P1,000 increase in the monthly pension of retired members is unlawful, Senate Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon said on Wednesday, January 11.
“The SSS is not allowed to raise the premium rates so it can increase benefits,” Drilon said in a press statement.
The senator cited Section 4 of Republic Act No. 8282 that prohibits SSS from recommending an increase in the benefits and, at the same time, raise the premium contribution of active members.
The House of Representatives has approved a bill increasing the pension of SSS retirees by P2,000 to be given in two installments, the first P1, 000 this year and another P1, 000 in 2019.
However, President Duterte’s economic advisers opposed the proposed increase, noting that the additional pension would deplete the SSS pension funds unless active members’ contributions are raised.
On January 10, however, Duterte approved a P1, 000 increase in the retirees’ monthly pension starting February this year, but members’ contributions would also be raised by 1.5 percent starting May.
“While the executive’s decision to finally grant the long-awaited increase in the pension of SSS retirees is commendable, it should not be used to justify an increase in the premium payment,” Drilon pointed out.
“The President’s move to help our aging SSS pensioners is laudable, but the executive branch must also ensure that this pension hike will not be used as an excuse to enforce higher contributions from SSS members,” he added.
SSS Chairman Amado Valdez said in a statement that as a consequence of Duterte’s decision to increase the pension of retirees, the premium contributions of active members needed to be raised to avoid depleting the pension fund.
Former President Benigno Aquino III vetoed a bill approved by the previous Congress that authorized a P2, 000 across the board increase in the monthly pension of retirees. During the campaign period, Duterte promised to approve the bill.
READ: Aquino did ‘right thing’ in veto of SSS pension hike bill – Osmena