Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero vowed to push for the passage of a bill granting a P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of Social Security System (SSS) members before the 16th Congress ends in June next year.

“I fully support the measure that seeks to increase SSS pension, and I pledge to do everything to get the bill across the finish line,” Escudero said. “Our low-income and ailing seniors are counting on this to get them through their difficult old age.”

House Bill No. 5842 seeks to amend the Social Security Act of 1997, increasing the present minimum pension of P1,200 to P3,200 for retirees with at least 10 years of credited service. For those with over 20 years of credited service, monthly pension will increase from P2,400 to P4,400.

The House version, authored by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, has been adopted in toto by the Senate Committee on Government Corporations and Public Services, and is up for second reading at the plenary.

Some 1.9 million retirees are expected to benefit from the proposed legislation.

“We remain committed to getting this bill passed before Congress adjourns for good. Our parents have worked for decades—they deserve this from us. We cannot abandon this fight,” he said.

Escudero pointed out that private sector retirees, many of whom are salaried employees whose incomes have been heavily taxed during their working years, need immediate help so they can cope with the rising cost of living.

“A significant increase in pension is necessary to enable our senior citizens maintain an acceptable living standard, taking into consideration the ever-increasing cost of living,” he said.

The veteran lawmaker said the existing monthly SSS pensions are, “without question, not enough for seniors to afford their basic needs like shelter, food and medicine.”

“A decent pension would keep the elderly out of poverty and allow them to complete their life journey with dignity and comfort,” Escudero said.

He said experiences in other countries showed that giving bigger pension to senior citizens, especially those living below the poverty line, results in better life conditions for a larger population as the elders share their benefits with the members of their household by buying food, supplies, clothes and even school materials for their grandchildren.

SSS President Emilio de Quiros Jr. had said the proposed increase in pension will shorten the fund life of the SSS from year 2042 to until 2029 only, but lawmakers were quick to tell de Quiros to improve their collections.