Davao City council seeks suspension of raise in SSS, PhilHealth premiums

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/07 Jan.) — The City Council has asked for a temporary suspension of any increase in mandatory contributions for the Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation premiums.

The resolution, authored by Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, questioned the timing of the increase of up to 0.6% in membership contributions, calling the increase “undemocratic” and “unjust”.

Dayanghirang said the increase was ill-timed considering the series of calamities like the Visayas earthquake, super typhoon Yolanda and the Zamboanga City standoff.

The councilor questioned the need for the government agencies to derive their revenues from people who were also facing increasing costs in basic necessities such as food, shelter, utilities, and education.

“Increasing government contributions must equate first to increasing the salaries and wages of the labor force in which at this period would be impossible to balance as our economy from all other regions are still on the way to recovery,” he said.

Dayanghirang called for an investigation of where the collections are going and the cases of non-remittance of employee contributions.

The two agencies recently released a new contribution schedule, which increased the contributions of at least 30 million members as well as at least 870,000 employers from 10.4% to 11% effective this month.

The schedule was posted on the SSS website.

In an interview, Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte said collection agencies should review the capability of taxpayers to pay and whether they are ready.

The SSS contribution increase took its cue from President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address in July 2013.

The increase, the president said, would solve unfunded SSS liabilities amounting to billions of pesos.

“If we add 0.6% to the contribution rate, it will immediately deduct P141 billion from the unfunded liability of the SSS,” Aquino had said.

At the House of Representatives, Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Luzviminda C. Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus today urged their colleagues to take up House Resolution 161 directing the House committee on government enterprises and privatization to inquire into the financial management situation of the SSS.

Ilagan and de Jesus asked the committee for recommendations for shoring up the agency’s pension fund without disenfranchising members and imposing additional burden to its beneficiaries.

“The SSS is in no position to shove these increases down workers’ throats. No consultation was conducted among stakeholders. A deeper look into the financial situation of the SSS should be conducted and at the very least, an explanation should be in order,” said Ilagan in a statement.

The Gabriela solon also hit Malacanang’s categorical refusal to put a stop to proposed increases
in SSS contributions.

She called President Aquino’s move an obvious bias against Filipino workers.

Ilagan noted however that Congress has refused to look into the SSS’ financial situation since the resolution was filed in August 2013. (MindaNews)