By Jess Diaz and Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star), Feb 1, 2018
MANILA, Philippines — Leftist lawmakers opposed yesterday the plan of the Social Security System (SSS) to increase employees’ monthly premium contribution from 11 percent to 14 percent of their salary.
Workers also called on the government to do its obligation and shoulder the planned increase in contributions of SSS members.
“The SSS leadership says that its members will be able to afford the additional contributions with the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion), but that’s not true,” Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers said.
They said 75 percent of SSS members are minimum wage earners who did not benefit from reduced income tax under TRAIN, since they were already tax-exempt before the law was enacted.
“Those who earn minimum wage and below get nothing from TRAIN but they are the ones who get hit the hardest by the onslaught of price hikes in basic goods and services due to TRAIN,” they said.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao urged President Duterte to reject the SSS proposal for a contribution increase.
He said SSS officials should look at other options like maximizing income from investments, collecting billions in delinquent contributions and reducing fat salaries, allowances and operational expenses to fund the second installment of the P2,000 pension increase.
Sonny Matula, Federation of Free Workers (FFW) president, said the government is mandated by law to contribute to the SSS if there is really a need to sustain the agency’s fund.
“Not only employers and workers, but government should also shoulder the contribution burden, just like what the governments of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are doing, such as Thailand and Vietnam, among others,” Matula said.
Matula said SSS did not consult with labor groups and other stakeholders before approving a three-percent hike in SSS premiums.
“This is outrageous. The SSS is disregarding workers and violating laws on tripartism that make consultation with workers and employers mandatory,” Matula said in a statement.
Workers are strongly against the impending increase in SSS contribution, Matula said.
For almost two years, Matula said, labor groups have no more representation in the Social Security Commission even if it is mandated under the SSS law.
Matula noted that last month the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) imposed a contribution rate increase without consulting the most representative labor unions.
“The yearly contribution to the fund of government provided by law is ignored by the SSS management. This commitment was never complied with by the national government, save for the first P500,000 half a century ago, when the SSS started operations in 1957,” Matula explained.
SSS announced that the pension fund will implement starting April an increase in members’ contribution rate from 11 percent to 14 percent to compensate for the impact of last year’s pension hike.
Last year, Duterte approved a two-stage monthly pension increase of P2,000, but of the amount only P1,000 was given to pensioners since March.
For its part, Gabriela said increasing SSS members’ contribution amid increased consumer prices brought about by new and higher taxes under TRAIN is like adding insult to injury.
“Workers are now suffering from increase in prices of basic commodities and services. Whatever is left of their take-home pay will be further reduced with a premium contribution increase,” it said.