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Duterte looking for ‘win-win solution’ to SSS pension hike

President Duterte is looking for a “win-win solution” to resolve the impasse over the proposed pension increase for Social Security System members.

The President intends to meet his economic managers soon to study the matter and balance the interests of the pensioners and the state pension agency, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.

“The proposed R2,000 SSS pension hike is still being studied by the President upon the recommendation of his economic managers,” Andanar said.

“The President is looking for a win-win solution where he can give pensioners the increase they have been asking for while ensuring that SSS will remain solvent at all times,” he added.

Andanar explained that the President does not want to use taxpayers’ money, especially money of non-SSS members, should funding problem arise as a result of the pension increase. “He will again confer and meet with his economic managers to solve the impasse,” he said.

Duterte earlier deferred the proposed SSS pension hike due to concerns raised by some Cabinet members that it might bloat the agency’s liabilities and lead to its bankruptcy. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia are reportedly opposed to the SSS pension increase proposal.

Duterte said he would still study the proposal to increase the SSS pension in two tranches starting this month.

“I promised that it would come your way before the year ends. I’m very sorry but that’s how it is. I do not own the money. And hindi naman – ang problema kasi dito is government assures everybody that SSS will remain solvent for all times,” he said in recent interview with state-owned People’s Television Network.

“The risk is not really that good but anyway, we’ll meet again…I’ll try to give you the honest explanation maybe in the month of January,” he said.

Upon learning the President’s latest position, some lawmakers have called on Duterte to fulfill his promise to approve the increase in the monthly SSS pension of retirees.

The SSS pension hike is one of the campaign promises of Duterte when he ran for president in the last elections.

His predecessor, then President Aquino, blocked the proposed SSS pension increase, drawing criticisms for being heartless. At the time, Aquino argued that the pension agency may become bankrupt in a few years if the huge pension hike benefiting two million SSS pensioners is approved. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)