The 2016 presidential candidates weigh in on the SSS pension hike bill.
Photos from the Manila Bulletin & the Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Former DILG secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II expressed his support of President Benigno Aquino III after he came under fire for his decision to veto the SSS pension hike bill, saying that the approval of the bill may seriously jeopardize the SSS.
Roxas recognizes that the recent veto may seem politically unpopular in the public eye, but the presidential candidate stresses that pushing through with the bill could complicate matters in the future.
Roxas’ running mate Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo echoed his sentiments saying that the president “did what must be done.”
The Liberal party’s presidential bet maintains that putting 31 million SSS members at risk for a short-term fix did not coincide with President Noynoy’s “Daang Matuwid” campaign. However, Roxas promised that they are not dismissing the needs of the senior citizens and that he would look into alternative ways to solve this problem.
In a letter addressed to Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker of the House Feliciano Belmonte Jr., President Aquino stressed the financial consequences of the hike. He stated that the increase “will result in substantial negative income for the Social Security System," and may render the SSS bankrupt by 2029.
House Bill 5842, authored by Rep. Neri Colmenares, seeks to raise the retirement pension of over two million Social Security System (SSS) members by P2,000. The proposal was vetoed Thursday, January 14.
Reactions to PNoy’s thumbs down among the public have been largely negative, as was the case with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who did not hesitate to express his sadness over Aquino’s decision.
According to Duterte, the entire purpose of the SSS is to provide retirees a means to support themselves when they can no longer be productive. He further reiterates that pension rates at present are not enough—especially for pensioners suffering from diseases like hypertension or diabetes whose medications often come at a premium.
As far as discourse is concerned, this is not the first time the two presidential hopefuls have expressed conflicting opinions in the media.
During a presidential forum at the Ateneo de Manila University in early December, Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas challenged the notion of Davao being the safest city in the Philippines labelling it as “a myth”.
Citing data from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Roxas stated that Davao ranked 4th in the country in terms of crime with over 18,000 crime incidents recorded in 2014. However, Duterte had his own rebuttal to Roxas’ claim during an episode of his Sunday television program titled “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa”.
Roxas’ credentials came under fire after Duterte claimed that he did not graduate from Wharton School of Economics, saying that the only myth is that Roxas graduated from the prestigious institution. Duterte even playfully requested that Roxas show him his graduation picture wearing a toga with his mother as proof.