MANILA - A political science professor believes President Benigno Aquino III's move to veto a bill seeking P2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of over 2 million retirees and survivors will hurt the chances of administration bet Mar Roxas in the presidential race.
Dr. Aries Arugay of University of the Philippines Diliman said Friday that other presidential aspirants may use the veto on the Social Security System (SSS) pension hike as ammunition against Roxas.
"Hindi natin pwedeng sabihing imposible iyun lalo na kung magagamit ng ibang kandidato iyung issue na ito sa kampanya. Kasi nga election period na, lahat ng desisyon ng mga pulitiko, pwede nang gamitin," he said.
The President has cited the bill's negative effect on SSS income, saying that "the stability of the entire SSS benefit system, whose present membership comprises about 31 million individuals, will be seriously compromised in favor of two million pensioners and their dependents."
He said that pension hike will result in an annual payout of P56 billion, far higher than the annual investment income of 30 to 40 billion.
Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa Habitan said House Bill No. 5842 was too expensive and detrimental to the pension fund reserve if implemented.
"The bill does not have a revenue generating component, which means when the pension reserve runs out much earlier by 13 years-2029 instead of 2042," said Habitan, who is in charge of government financial institutions.
READ: Vetoed SSS pension hike 'too expensive' - DOF
Arugay said the proposed SSS pension hike is not the first bill that the President vetoed despite potential benefits for the poor and elderly.
He said among the bills that the President vetoed were the Centenarian bill which sought to grant P100,000 cash to Filipino centenarians, and the Magna Carta for the Poor. Arugay said Roxas' rivals may also cite these vetoed bills against him.
"Dahil sa pag-anoint niya dito kay dating Secretary Roxas, kung ako iyung kalaban ni Secretary Roxas sa pagka-pangulo, gagamitin ko ito kasi hindi pwedeng i-deny e. Nasa journal ng parehong Kongreso iyung mga veto na ginawa ng Pangulo."
The professor added that it will be easy to rouse public disfavor against Roxas by pointing out the large bonuses supposedly received by SSS officials.
Arugay said Roxas must tweak his current campaign platform of continuing Aquino's programs if he wants to improve his chances in the elections.
"Siguro kailangang niyang magkaroon ng kaunting manouvering na hindi por que siya ang ini-annoint ng administrasyon e lahat nung mga desisyon e [itutuloy]. Siguro kailangan niya ng flexibility lalo't hindi pabor sa kanya ang mga current survey," he said.
READ: Colmenares eyes reversal of PNoy veto of SSS pension hike