Fat bonuses of SSS execs untouched
FAT BONUSES enjoyed by top Social Security System (SSS) officials since 2013 have remained untouched despite the furor over the recent veto by President Aquino of a proposed law granting SSS members a relatively modest P2,000 increase in their monthly pensions.
The backlash against the veto intensified as SSS officials clung tenaciously to their perks amid charges that the government was mismanaging the pension fund and using it to allow cronies and political allies to pillage the fund.
Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president and CEO, inflamed the public after he confirmed that seven other members of the SSS board received at least P1 million each as bonuses for the “good performance” of the fund.
However, he quickly qualified his affirmation, saying that bonuses amounting to P276 million were distributed to other SSS employees to compensate for the mandatory increase in contributions in January, 2013 on grounds that the SSS won’t have enough funds to cover retirement and their benefits beyond 2039.
According to De Quiros, the bonuses—both the estimated P10 million for eight board members and the P276 million for its employees—were given in accordance with the “performance-based” system set by the Governance Commission for Government-owned and-controlled corporations (GCG).
Inquirer Research reported that the grant of generous bonuses to SSS executives was condemned by the public, as an increase in SSS membership contribution loomed and concerns were raised by the Commission on Audit over the slow processing of payments of death, disability and retirement claims of SSS members.
Under the system of incentives, the bonuses were given in accordance with the incentives set up by the GCG, the presidential body tasked with overseeing the pay and perks of state corporations.
In justifying the fabulous bonuses the SSS board awarded to its members, De Quiros claimed that the board was operating in accordance with the norms observed by government corporations.
Executives of 20 GOCCs were granted bonuses for hitting at least 90 percent of their income target in 2012, according to the GCG spokesperson.
The GCG was established by a law signed by Mr. Aquino in 2011, accompanied by a blaze of sanctimonious declarations, such as “a stop to the multimillion-peso bonuses and extravagant benefits top executives and board members of state corporations give members.”
The law came almost after the Aquino administration uncovered the big bonuses and other extravagant benefits executives and board members of state firms had been giving themselves.
It is ironical that by 2015, his sermons were coming home to roost as his top executives at the SSS found themselves under fire for their self-awarded extravagant bonuses and perks.
Since the storm blew over the bonuses, we have been deluded by convoluted explanations based on actuarial data, the financial state of the SSS and pension fund that has given fabulous benefits to top officials, while the board throws crumbs to the SSS rank-and-file in the form of miserly pension increase in a system of dog-eat-dog that leaves the underdog behind in the scramble over the distribution of spoils of office in the SSS hierarchy.
In October 2013, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the board of directors as well as employees of the SSS could keep their huge bonuses after Malacañang found nothing wrong with such incentives despite strong public criticism.
Lacierda said officials and employees of the SSS were given bonuses in line with a performance-based incentives system set by the GCG.
“You can only declare a bonus if the GOCC profits and the SSS has earned huge profits,” he said. “There is also a corresponding bonus for employees.”
De Quiros silent
Lacierda also praised the SSS for remaining focused on its duty as keepers of the fund, adding that “I can say they are performing their job responsibly and with utmost good faith.”
Less reassuring to the public is the fact that despite all their explanations, the SSS executives have hardly given an assurance to the public that they are considering cutting back on their fabulous bonuses.
De Quiros is absolutely silent on this issue.
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