DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 3 Feb) – A labor group held a protest action in front of the Social Security Systems (SSS) office in Bajada here to encourage the lawmakers to vote in favor of overriding the veto on the P2,000 SSS pension hike during the last session day of Congress on Wednesday.
In a phone interview, Joel Maglunsod, vice president for Mindanao of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), said that they will continue to press on the government to favor the SSS pension increase for senior citizens.
Last January 14, President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the 2011 House Bill (HB) 5842 that irked different progressive groups, including the Gabriela and KMU, and called Aquino’s decision as “walay kasingkasing” (heartless).
Maglunsod also hit Aquino’s counter offer of P500 to P1,000 as unacceptable and that the government should listen to the public’s clamor.
He added that the proposed legislation has gone a long way since it was lobbied in the Lower House by Makabayan representative lawyer Neri Colmenares in 2011.
Around 100 members of KMU-Mindanao joined the rally on Wednesday and vowed to monitor who among the legislators would attend the session and vote in favor of overriding the veto.
“Congress knows that the public is waiting on them to deliver this veto override today. We are demanding Congress to show up and make a last-ditch effort to save the pensioners before it goes into recess. They owe it to the senior citizens,” Maglunsod added in a statement.
He said the group had met with the senior citizens federation leaders, workers in the formal and informal sector, drivers, and migrant workers “in calling for a regional alliance to push for the P2,000 SSS pension hike should the override veto fail to pass.”
Maglunsod said they are not losing hope even if lawmakers will not favor of the overriding, adding that they will continue to push for the passage of vetoed legislation in the next administration.
“Among our numerous consultations with senior citizens’ associations and workers’ groups, there is unanimity that other proposals below the P2,000 level across-the-board pension increase is unacceptable. There is also unity that the pension hike, being long overdue, will now be up to a strong alliance of stakeholders in this issue who will place enough pressure on Congress, SSS, and the executive branch to make the pension hike possible,” Maglunsod added.
In an earlier statement, Carlo Olalo, spokesperson of KMU-Southern Mindanao, said: “The government is lying through its teeth. The proponents of this bill had carefully studied the financial capacity of the SSS, including all possible sourcing, such as improving the collections and penalizing delinquent employers who do not remit SSS premium contributions of worker-members.”
He added that Aquino must cut back on the bonuses of SSS executives rather than depriving the senior citizens of pension hike if “the president is worried about insolvency.”
Maglunsod said they will resort to mass movements if the government refuses to hear the public clamor.
A series of rallies led by Gabriela and KMU-SMR had been held since the veto last January 14.