Pension hike: It takes a heart
“Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.” (Psalm 71:9)
THE NATIONAL Council of Churches in the Philippines joins the call to increase the monthly Social Security System pension which regrettably President Aquino vetoed.
We believe that this call is just and humane. The monthly contributions of every member turn into many years of forced savings, with the hope that these contributions will sustain their needs for basic things such as medication and food during their years of retirement.
The President’s argument for vetoing the bill, that the increase will lead the SSS into bankruptcy, is shallow. While we acknowledge that the increase may mean additional expenses for the SSS, the government has the resources and means to augment the social fund if it really has a heart for its pensioners. If it can allocate a budget for projects such as the conditional cash transfer and sovereign guarantees for big businesses under the public-private partnership program, why can it not allocate for the SSS fund?
We find it insensitive and callous that while the President vetoed the pension increase, he allowed an increase in the benefits of a few top officials already receiving high bonuses, allowances and salaries coming from the funds collected from SSS members. We find it morally unacceptable that a few executives are enjoying all these special privileges, while many SSS pensioners are hardly surviving on what they receive monthly.
The increase in the SSS pension would manifest a nation that has a heart and compassion for its people and believes in the dignity and the need to care for the elderly.
We want to believe that our lawmakers have the heart for the aged and retired, which the President obviously does not have. Their compassion was seen when they approved the bill authorizing the pension increase. It is our prayer that the compassion of our lawmakers remains steadfast. We continue to hope that before the 16th Congress holds its final session, they override the President’s veto.
—REV. FR. REX R. B. REYES JR., general secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
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