“Ordinary employees and workers like us who are now pensioners contribute greatly to the SSS funds yet in our twilight years, we, pensioners, are in dire need of means to purchase our own food, medicines, and other household needs. We deserve better treatment from the SSS.”
MAIN STORY | Clamor for SSS pension hike growing stronger
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Magdalena Barroga, a community leader and SSS pensioner, was one of the senior citizens who protested morning of January 28, in-front of the SSS Branch along Shaw Boulevard in Pasig City. She wanted to add her voice to the nationwide call for Congress to override President Aquino’s January 12 veto of their desired P2,000 ($42.55) pension increase for senior citizens. It took five years, many hearings and compromises on the proposed amount of pension hike before Congress passed the P2,000 pension hike that Aquino refused to sign.
Senior citizens like Barroga have been more vocal lately. Leaders of various senior citizens’ groups have also been heard calling on their fellow seniors to support the calls for P2,000 pension hike.
Barroga is also a member of the Senior Citizens organization of Pasig, and a pensioner who receives only P1,200 ($25.53) per month.
At their protest action in front of SSS in Pasig, Barroga criticized “Aquino’s minions,” the SSS executives who, she said, have been deceiving the public. She reminded them that she’s a contributor, too, and she deserves “a livable pension,” more than her current P1,200 a month.
She decried how the SSS has for more than a decade failed to fix its mere 40 percent collection rate and go after businesses that do not remit the contributions of their employees.
“Ordinary employees and workers like us who are now pensioners contribute greatly to the SSS funds yet in our twilight years, we, pensioners, are in dire need of means to purchase our own food, medicines, and other household needs. We deserve better treatment from the SSS”, Barroga said.
In a radio-TV interview the morning before, another senior citizen, 81-year old Leonides Ordenes, president of Manila Senior Citizens Affairs Organization, said most of his fellow seniors are indeed receiving only about P1,500 ($31.90) a month in pension from the SSS. “Some receive a mere P700 ($14.90).”
“It’s very hard for a pensioner – when he or she has to pay for so many things, water, electric bills, transport fares, medicine, food,” Ordenes said.
Ordenes said he is not a member of SSS, but he still called on all senior citizens and their supporters and families to come and join the mass actions calling for a P2,000 pension hike.
He said that even though senior citizens have children who might help them, these children also have their own responsibilities and expenses .
“We will boost our actions to achieve the P2,000 pension hike,” Ordenes told a radio interview by Ted Failon of DZMM last January 26.
In their protest action at SSS in Pasig, Barroga reiterated the suggestions spelled out in the P2,000 pension hike bill that the SSS must also be transparent in how it collects and uses funds, since over P300 billion ($6.382 billion) are not being collected, and billions more are used for investments in companies that benefit only a few.
“If these officials (in SSS) are truly good, then they should prove themselves by finding ways to correct its small collection rate. Also, SSS should push for government subsidy since Aquino has been misallocating billions of pesos all these years to corruption-ridden and anomalous programs via the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and Priority Development Assistance Programs (PDAF). The government can fund PhilHealth and other Private-Public Partnerships, why not SSS?” Barroga said.