Neri, Cunanan shouldn't have earned from SSS stocks—Drilon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2010 10:03 PM | Updated as of Nov 05 2010 06:03 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The tax evasion raps filed by the tax bureau against former pension fund executives highlight the fiduciary responsibility public officials have when handling other people's money, Senator Frank Drilon said.

"These are trust funds that do not belong to themselves and to the government, but to the workers. It is the fiduciary obligation of the commissioners of SSS (Social Security System) to protect the trust fund and not appropriate for themselves huge amounts of money in the form of obscene allowances," Drilon said in a statement to the media.

On Thursday, the Bureau of Internal Revenue filed tax evasion cases against former SSS chair Thelmo Cunanan and president Romulo Neri for their failure to declare their appropriate incomes.

SSS is a state-run pension fund for private sector employees. It's investments in several local private companies yield returns that contribute to the financial growth of the fund. SSS officials represent the pension fund in the board of these companies.

The tax case stemmed from revelations during a Senate investigation on excessive compensation and benefits of government officials serving in state-run corporations and financial institutions.

Drilon, who was the chair of the Senate Finance Committee that spearheaded the investigation, had said that SSS officials have "criminal liabilities" when they exercised their stock option in the boards of private companies.

"Even if they argued that they used their own money in exercising their stock option, the money that they received from it should have pertained to the pension fund that they represent," Drilon wrote.

"These are trust funds that do not belong to themselves and to the government, but to the workers," he stressed.