Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero called on the Social Security System (SSS) to make public its investment portfolio and explain to its two million pensioners why President Aquino was correct in his assessment that the pension fund would go bankrupt in 2029 if he did not veto the Congress-ratified P2,000 increase in their pension.
“It is about time that the SSS, with its officials earning millions of pesos in salaries and bonuses, be put under the spotlight and be made to explain in full details why the agency will go belly up if we grant the much-needed P2,000-increase in the monthly pension of its retired members,” said Escudero, the leading vice-presidential candidate.
In his veto message, the President said that enacting the SSS pension hike bill could lead to “substantial negative income for the SSS” and depletion of its Investment Reserve Fund by 2029.
The Chief Executive explained that with the pension increase of P2,000 per retiree, multiplied by the present number of more than 2 million pensioners, would result in a total payout of P56 billion every year.
Compared against the annual investment income of P30 billion to P40 billion, such total payment for pensioners will yield a deficit of P16 billion to P26 billion annually, the President said.
As such, Aquino said the deficit would seriously compromise the current members of about 31 million just to favor the two million pensioners and their dependents.
Escudero said this was the reason why the Filipino people, particularly the pensioners and their dependents, “would want to know where the SSS bigwigs have invested their contributions.”
The veteran lawmaker also recalled a statement the President made during the 55th Founding Anniversary of the SSS on September 3, 2012, during which he emphasized the role of the pension fund in helping its members.
“SSS ensures that its funds are protected made to grow so that it can continue its mission of providing viable, universal and equitable social security protection for now and for more generations to come,” read the speech carried by the official website of the Office of the President.
Escudero said it was ironic that for that anniversary celebration, the SSS chose the theme: “Kabuhayang Pinagsikapan, Seguridad Maaasahan.”
“So where are all the fruits of these contributions by these retirees? The security they were promised?” Escudero asked.
“Surely, these contributions made by SSS members that were also used to pay the millions of pesos in salaries, benefits and bonuses of the agency’s officers should have also been considered investments, investments to make sure that they use SSS funds properly so that these would get the best yield in the investment market,” he added.
Yet now, Escudero said, the pension fund is “using this excuse of poor investment yield as the reason why SSS pensioners cannot get their just increase in pension.”
“If there is anybody that should be made to suffer for the shortfall in investment income, it shouldn’t be the pensioners but those under whose care the billions of pesos in SSS contributions were put so that they could invest them properly,” he said.