Binay camp says reforms needed to improve efficiency, financial stability, and increase benefits
CALOOCAN CITY (via PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA) – Vice President Jejomar C. Binay said that if Congress would not override the veto from the President, he would make the proposed Social Security System (SSS) pension hike a priority under his administration.
“If Congress will not override the veto, I will give priority to increasing our assistance to SSS pensioners (under my presidency),” he said in an interview in Caloocan City.
“Nakakalungkot lang. Konting halaga lang naman ‘yon. Bakit naman ipinagkakait pa?” he added.
When asked if the state insurance agency’s investment portfolio should be reviewed, the Vice President said such a review will be part of the reforms that his administration will introduce in the SSS.
Joey Salgado, spokesman for media affairs department of the Office of the Vice President, said reforming the SSS will be a priority of the Binay administration.
“After six years, it has become apparent that the SSS has failed to introduce reforms that would have addressed the long-festering problem of collection inefficiency, poor customer service and the absence of additional benefits for its members,” he said.
Salgado said the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), which the Vice President used to chair, should be seen “as proof that you can expand benefits, improve services, and shore up financial stability without increasing contribution.”
“It can done. Look at Pag-IBIG today. It is not only the most financially stable government corporation, it is also setting the benchmark in customer service. And all the reforms were introduced during the term of the Vice President,” he added.
As of May 2015, Pag-IBIG Fund has released Php169.71 billion in housing loans benefitting 239,903 families.
The agency has also expanded its loan programs to cover calamities, education, travel and other purposes. A total of P177 billion has been released to eight million members as of May 2015, a month before the Vice President resigned from the Cabinet, he said.
The agency was also able to increase its members to 15.3 million as of May 2015, compared to 2.59 members in 2010. Collections from members totaled P123 billion, or 32 per cent higher than the P32 billion collected by the previous agency administration.
Pag-IBIG under the Vice President’s chairmanship reduced interest rates to 6.5 per cent from the previous 11.5 per cent, and declared P11.35 billion in dividends, the highest in the agency’s history. The amount was divided proportionately and credited to the members’ accounts, Salgado said.
He added that the presidential veto, which is being supported by the administration standard bearer, again underscores the absence of compassion, especially for senior citizens.
“Our senior citizens have contributed to our economy. The least the administration could do is to show concern for their welfare, including the 1.9 million retired and elderly SSS members,” Salgado said.
“The SSS pension amounts have been unchanged since 1997 and have not been adjusted to inflation. Any increase could augment the rising cost of aging members’ basic living and medical expenses without sacrificing the fund’s long-term viability,” he added.
Salgado said that the SSS should have gone after delinquent employers.
“The SSS had six years to go after employers who failed to remit their contributions. The state-run pension fund had failed to collect P13 billion from these delinquent employers as of 2014,” he said.
Salgado also said reducing corporate and personal income tax rates will also help employers and employees.
“Lower taxes mean companies and their employees will have more money at their disposal. Among other things, it will enable them to pay higher premiums as a compensatory measure to the pension hike,” he added.
Earlier, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay urged his United Arab Emirates-based fraternity brothers to continue helping him in his efforts to push reforms and find ways to make the poor benefit from the nation’s macroeconomic progress.
“Sa itataguyod nating Pilipinas, hangad ko na walang Pilipinong mapipilitang mangibang-bansa upang magtrabaho. Hangad kong katulad ninyo, ang mga Pilipinong mangingibang-bansa ay aalis lamang upang lalo pang malinang ang kanilang mga kakakayahan,” Binay said during the General Membership Meeting and Fellowship Night of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) UAE ’96 & APO EMARAT 121 .
Binay expressed hope that the APO will continue helping him in his quest to establish a nation that can provide a better quality of life for every Filipino.
“Naniniwala ako na kung patuloy ang ating pagtutulungan at pagbabayanihan, ang tunay at progresibong pagbabago ay hindi mananatiling pangarap lamang.”
“Sama-sama tayong magbibigay daan sa makabuluhang pagmulat at pag-angat ng pamumuhay ng bawat mamamayang Pilipino,” he said.
Binay, who joined the group during his college days at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and credits it as one of the reasons for his victory in the 2010 elections, said that it was the duty of the members to protect the future of the nation.
He added that this could be done by molding leaders according to the principles of selfless service and excellence.
“Mga lider na walang pag-aalinlangang mag-aalay ng sarili sa bayan at may kakayahang mahusay na tugunan ang bawat pagsubok at nagbabagong pangagailangan ng panahon,” Binay said.
Binay also urged his fraternity brothers to continue to organize for meaningful causes to show the power of unity.
“Ialay natin sa ating bayan ang patuloy na pagkilos upang maipakita natin ang pwersa ng pagkakaisa,” said the Vice President.
He also urged them to lead the way in proving that selfless service can drive the nation to a state where every Filipino has a chance at uplifting their circumstances.
“Ipakita natin na ang paninilbihan ng walang pag-iimbot ang magdadala sa atin sa isang Pilipinas kung saan bawat Pilipino ay may kakayahang guminhawa,” he said.
“Hindi ako natitinag sa aking paniniwala na kayong mga kapatid ko sa APO ay walang alinlangang tutugon at iaalay ang inyong mga sarili para sa ating pangarap na mai-angat ang kalidad ng buhay ng bawat Pilipino – sila man ay nasa loob o labas ng ating bayan. Ito ang pamana ng ating kapatiran. Isang pamanang buong-puso at buong-diwa nating iaalay sa ating mga kababayan,” he added. (Claire Morales True/PhilAmPress/PhlTodayUSA)