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Colmenares to disgruntled SSS members: Take your concerns to the streets

Colmenares to disgruntled SSS members: Take your concerns to the streets

MANILA, Philippines—Bayan Muna chair and Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares has urged disgruntled members of the Social Security System (SSS) to join a protest action to air their grievances against the newly signed SSS Rationalization Act.

Colmenares said on Wednesday that groups will hold a picket on Thursday, and a huge rally on March 30, in front of the SSS main office along East Avenue in Quezon City, to denounce the increase of members’ contribution from 11 percent to 12 percent.

“Nanawagan, humihingi ako ng suporta na sana, ang ating mga pensioners at members ng SSS, maglulunsad tayo ng isang malaking rally sa SSS, sa March 30, alas nueve ng umaga po,” he told reporters in Quezon City.

“Magtipon-tipon tayo doon sa harap ng East Avenue, at ilabas natin ang ating posisyon, ayusin mo, magreporma ka sa loob ng SSS, bago ka magkaroon ng proposal na dagdag kontribusyon,” he added.

The senatorial bet has reiterated his call to SSS management to enhance the effectivity of their collection operations before imposing an increase in the contribution.

“Ang isyu talaga d’yan, dapat ba kayong mag-increase ng contribution habang hindi pa kayo nagiging efficient sa collection?” he asked.

“I think even the employers, not just the workers and the unions will disagree with this especially since SSS has no moral authority to increase contribution if it cannot even collect the previous obligation.  Bakit kayo mag-iimbento ng bagong kontribusyon eh hindi niyo nga ma-kolekta ang luma niyong kontribusyon?” he asked.

According to him, members especially those earning minimum wages and whose employers failed to remit their contribution would be most affected by the law.

“Una, maliit na nga ‘yong sahod, kakaltasan mo […] Pangalawa, hindi pa ni-remit sa SSS, eh di wala siyang benepisyo ‘pag punta niya sa ospital, delingkwente siya, hindi niya ma-avail ‘yong benefits.  Third, mangungutang siya ngayon pang-tustos ‘don sa ospital niya,” he said.

“Triple whammy ‘yon.  So why does SSS allow this? Obsessed sila ‘pag increase ng contribution?” he added.

The planned rallies came after President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Saturday the SSS Rationalization Act, which gradually hikes contribution up to 15 percent by 2025.

The law’s enactment will facilitate the adjustment of minimum and maximum salary credits, aimed at replenishing the SSS fund in six years.  It also allowed the Social Security Commission, SSS’ policy-making body, to collect higher contribution even without the President’s approval.

During the press conference, Colmenares — who has authored laws benefitting SSS members — reiterated in his presentation why SSS cannot require higher contribution rates, as stated in his letters to SSS President and CEO Enmanuel Looc.

He cited the P437 billion worth of uncollected contributions, which were mentioned in the Commission on Audit (COA) reports from years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and news stories from 2010.

Aside from these, he also claimed that members’ funds were wasted when SSS entered into various transactions, including the selling of P62.99 million Meralco shares for P5.66 billion to a buyer who has a P60 million capital, losing P1.1 billion due to the purchase of an overpriced shares, uncollected condominium dues, and uncollected loans worth P823 million from non-existing or unlisted companies, according to the 2015 COA report.

“Ang point ko ito: ayusin niyo kaya muna ‘yan, bakit pupunta kayo agad sa miyembro?” Colmenares said. /jpv