Militants picket SSS, PhilHealth in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 Jan) – Militant groups here picketed the offices of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PHIC) today to protest plans by the two agencies to increase premiums starting this month.

The protest coincides with efforts to file a temporary restraining order at the Supreme Court.

In last year’s State of the Nation Address, President Benigno S. Aquino III said it was time to increase collections for the two contributions to make up for “unfunded” aspects of the agencies.

Starting Jan. 1, SSS members’ monthly premium was increased by 0.6 percent. For PhilHealth, the monthly premium of members with the lowest salaries was doubled to P200, with the additional P100 contribution to be shouldered 50-50 by the employee and employer

But the 40 or so protesters said that the burden should not fall upon underpaid contributors to the premiums.

Dodong Basilio, Kilusang Mayo Uno spokesperson, said that the increase in premium is an insult to underpaid workers whose requests for a wage increase of P125 has yet to be approved nationwide.

“Corruption in the country has been so rampant and we ask the government to increase salaries instead of sourcing the funds from poor Filipinos,” Basilio said.

Minimum wage in the Southern Mindanao Region is P301 for non-agricultural sector and P291 for the agricultural sector, according to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board Region XI.

According Corazon Espinoza, Gabriela vice chair for Southern Mindanao, the average homemaker with two to three children has to budget a measly P2,000 every month, with allocations including food, allowance, soap for laundry, and fare for the children, especially in the case of mothers with children going to college.

“Poor Filipinos have to struggle with the price of basic commodities like rice, shelter, and education,” Espinoza stressed.

She said that the increase might lead to more corruption in the national government.

“Why are they increasing contribution rates? What happened to the money that had been deducted from our salaries?” she asked.

Basilio lauded the Davao City government for going against an increase in the premiums through a resolution passed by the city council earlier this week.