SSS adopts scrapped onerous GSIS requirement

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Social Security System is now requiring its pensioners to report personally every year, otherwise their pensions would be suspended. This is the first time since its establishment in 1954 that SSS has imposed this requirement, inconveniencing millions of members all over the country. A great number of SSS pensioners are sick, many of them with terminal illnesses, and it is cruel to require them to show up at SSS offices just to be able to claim their pensions which on the average do not exceed P3,000 monthly.

I showed up two weeks ago to report that I am still alive, despite having to walk with a cane. I saw at the SSS national office on East Avenue, Quezon City, hundreds of pensioners waiting for their turn a counter for recording. Many of them were in wheelchairs or walking on canes, and assisted by children or grandchildren because they could only wobble. Some, when they finally reached the counter after waiting for hours, were told to return the next day. Many encountered delay as they could not locate their ID cards. Others were told to report to other SSS regional or district offices as they were not supposed to be accommodated at the main office. A large number of them could hardly afford the jeepney or taxi fare needed to travel from home to office and back simply because a large portion of them were lowly employees and manual workers with a small wage base.

Considering the number of SSS member-retirees, it is not unreasonable to suppose that many more are in hospitals or in their homes, unable to travel except by ambulance.

The Government Service Insurance System adopted the same requirement during the incumbency of Winston Garcia as president during the Arroyo administration. Thousands of government retirees loudly complained and made Garcia the most hated GSIS head since its founding. This also contributed to President Gloria Arroyo’s unpopularity. There are literally millions of GSIS and SSS retirees still able to vote. Adding their families, theirs indeed is a vote base not to be ignored.

However, GSIS pensioners heaved a sigh of relief when the new GSIS administration headed by Robert G. Vergara abolished the onerous obligation. Apparently the new GSIS administration found the imposition unnecessary, as there are other reliable means to check whether a member has died. The SSS and GSIS have operated smoothly for decades without the requirement. The National Statistics Office, which keeps a record of births and deaths, can be relied on for the information with proper coordination.

This new burdensome requirement is contrary to the “daang matuwid” policy of President Aquino because it adds an obnoxious red tape or siren (“wang-wang”) to SSS operations. It inconveniences his “bosses” (the masses), especially the sick. New SSS president and CEO Emilio S. de Quiros Jr. is ill-advised to impose this new rule.

—MANUEL F. ALMARIO,

mflmario@yahoo.com

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