Candidate Duterte different from President Duterte, says Diokno

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2017 08:33 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA - Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the public should differentiate Rodrigo Duterte the president from the one who made promises during the campaign, in response to questions about the proposed pension hike for members of the Social Security System (SSS), which covers workers in the private sector. 

Duterte promised to grant the SSS pension hike when he was running for president, but has deferred the signing of a joint congressional resolution that will grant a staggered P2,000 pension increase.

"Iba 'yung candidate Duterte sa President Duterte. And you see that all over, even worldwide. Iba 'yung candidate Trump versus President Trump. May napapangako ka na kapag nakita mo 'yung datos, hindi pala pwede," Diokno said Tuesday.

Diokno and other finance officials have expressed concern that a pension hike would shorten the life of the fund to 2032 from the current 2042. 

A government-funded pension increase would unnecessarily burden taxpayers who are not members of SSS, Diokno added.

Diokno also said the SSS could collect debts from its members to help fund the pension increase.

SSS provides social protection to workers and employees in the private sector, including the self-employed. Those in the public sector are covered by the Government Service Insurance System or GSIS. 

STILL ON HOLD 

In an interview with ABS-CBN News last December 29, President Duterte said he was still studying whether to approve the proposal of the SSS to increase the pension of its members in two tranches beginning January 2017.

Duterte admitted that some of his Cabinet members are having debates on whether the SSS pension hike would be good for the institution. 

“There’s a debate going on. Because [Budget Secretary Benjamin] Diokno and [Finance Secretary Sonny] Dominguez, ayaw nila itong ano, because it will go bankrupt, itong SSS,” Duterte said.

“Hindi ko pa pinipirmahan [ang resolution]. Nandyan yung dalawang papel. I’ve been studying it,” he added. 

(I haven't signed it. The two papers are there. I've been studying it.)

Dominguez, Diokno, and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ernesto Pernia earlier said that without an accompanying “upward adjustment or restructuring of the [SSS] contribution rate,” the proposed pension hike would unduly jack up the unfunded liabilities of the SSS from P3.5 trillion to P5.9 trillion.

Duterte said, while he acknowledges the adverse effects that an increase in pension might bring to SSS, “ang problema nyan eh (the problem) is we promised [it] to the people, so we will just have to go somewhere in there.”

“The end-game is that the government has guaranteed the solvency always of SSS so that if it runs short of money, the government must go in. Ang problema, idamay mo yung hindi myembro [ng SSS], because you’ll get the money from taxpayers,” he said.