MANILA - The Social Security System (SSS) on Monday said senior citizens would not receive any pension increase anytime soon despite being reminded by a lawmaker that it has supposedly been committed by former officials of the agency.
There is no legal basis to increase SSS pensions by another P1,000, SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora Ignacio told members of the House Committee on Public Accounts.
"The actuarial study does not permit it especially now," she said.
"So categorically, the answer right now is, not yet. We don’t have any legal basis for doing that on the actuarial side," she said.
Under the law, the SSS is required to do actuarial valuation every 3 years to study the benefits and the contributions "so we will know, more or less, where we are... as far as the funding is concerned," Ignacio said.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, who raised the question on the SSS pension hike, recalled that the executive order approved in 2017 mandated a P2,000 increase that will be implemented in 2 tranches - the first, that year, and the second, not later than 2022.
"The commitment then was, if hindi ma-implement at the earliest possible time it will be implemented, not later than 2022. So that was I think the basis, kaya tinanong ko kung yung second tranche is still coming o no longer. Kasi yun yung maalaala kong commitment noon from the leadership ng SSS and even ng Malacanang," Zarate said.
Ignacio said there was no mention of another increase in the order the SSS received from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
"The pension increase would have a corresponding increase in contribution to allow the implementation," Ignacio said.
"That was the recommendation of SSS then and according to what was relayed to me," she said.
"We are not saying, we are turning back on any commitment because there was no commitment at that time," she added.
"I take exception to that there was no commitment. I personally talked to then chair (Amado) Valdez and President (Emmanuel) Dooc. Meron silang commitment. It’s not true that there’s no commitment made in open hearing in this House, as well as in the Senate," Zarate replied.
Ignacio said that even without any increase in membership contributions, the pension system's P540-billion fund reserves will be enough to cover the agency's liabilities for the next 2 years.
The current fund life of the SSS is until 2054, SSS Actuary Edgar Cruz said, but noted that it does not yet consider the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SSS deferred the implementation of the scheduled increase to membership contributions last January because of the pandemic.
"The House just recently approved a bill authorizing President Rodrigo Duterte to delay the increase in membership premiums because of the pandemic."
- report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News