Seniors are still trying to get over their disappointment at the possibility that the promised P2,000 increase on their SSS pension funds would remain just that—a promise. Upon the recommendation of his economic managers, president Rodrigo Duterte decided to defer the hike due to the possibility that it would deplete the funds of the SSS by 2031. Much earlier, congressmen had compromised by suggesting a two-step hike, with the P1,000 supposed to be given starting this year. According to the president, it would be unfair for taxpayers and non-SSS members if they were made to carry the burden of the proposed increase.
Many of the pensioners are poor and in the twilight of their years, and the P2,000 would most likely go to medical expenses because many of them are also ailing and need to take several maintenance medicines that cost an arm and a leg considering their impoverished situation.
Bayan Muna and the group of Neri Colmenares are blaming Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernie Pernia for the failure of the president to deliver on his campaign promise to have the proposed hike approved. According to the militant group, the P2,000 increase only translates into P66 per day, or P33 for the initial P1,000 pension hike.
Pensioners and ordinary SSS members say they can’t imagine the agency going bankrupt, saying the administrator and members of the board have the responsibility to see to it the funds will not be depleted. Some even complained at the reported excesses of former SSS administrators, with one of them reportedly squandering money by buying paintings and other non-liquid assets. If the officials are so concerned, then they should stop giving themselves overly generous perks and bonuses, some members suggested.
A fuming Colmenares also said the Cabinet secretaries resisting the proposed increase should stop deluding the people and the president into thinking that there are no funds for the proposed increase because this is simply not true. Besides, even if the fund life would get shortened, the SSS and the government have 14 years –more than enough time—to look for ways to increase the fund life.
Makati Rep. Luis Campos is also proposing that poverty-stricken pensioners above 70 should be given priority in the proposed P2,000 hike, pointing out that financial help should be extended to the more vulnerable and destitute seniors. Campos has also filed House Bill 2653 that proposes the amendment of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Instead of harping about the negatives, the SSS and the president’s economic managers should go about thinking of ways to make collection more efficient and perhaps impose stiffer sanctions on employers found delinquent in submitting SSS contributions. As the saying goes—“Kung gusto may paraan; kung ayaw maraming dahilan.”
Mining firm pays P30-m tax
Living up to its commitment of being a responsible miner, Philex Mining Corp., one of the oldest and largest gold and copper producers in Southeast Asia, paid up P29.8 million in real property taxes to the Municipality of Itogon, Benguet. The payment—which is more than enough to build 10 big classrooms and pay four months worth of salaries for 200 public employees—covers a five-year period for a proposed tailings pond in Barangay Ampucao.
During the check turnover at the Baguio Country Club by Philex SVP and resident manager of the Padcal operations in Benguet Manuel Agcaoili to Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan, Agcaoili reiterated that Philex Mining will not waver in fulfilling its tax obligations to both local and national governments as part of its commitment to responsible mining.
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