Gordon urges SSS to review 2021 contribution hike

Robie de Guzman   •   January 1, 2021   •   775

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Richard Gordon called on the Social Security System (SSS) to submit proposals to the Senate on how to suspend the implementation of the 2021 contribution increase without shortening the fund life of the agency.

While the law mandates an increase in SSS contributions in 2021, Gordon pointed out that this is untimely, especially when businesses are down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Bagama’t kailangan at nakasaad sa batas na magkaroon ng dagdag na kontribusyon ang SSS sa 2021, nakikita natin na hindi ito napapanahon lalo na’t lugmok ang ating mga negosyo,” Gordon said in a statement Thursday.

“Noong ginawa ang RA 11199, wala pa sa hinagap ng mga mambabatas na magkakaroon ng pandemya at magiging malala ang epekto nito sa ekonomiya,” he added.

Gordon cited data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) which shows that SSS’ loss sales reached P5.2 trillion in the first quarter of the year alone.

He noted that only halfway of the year, it is already higher than the 2021 national budget of P4.5 trillion.

“Kailangan nating balansehen ang interes ng mamayan na nahihirapan sa pandemya pati rin ang interes na mapangalagaan ang pondo ng SSS,” he added.

Gordon, however, acknowledged that stopping the 2021 contribution increase is not easy.

He said a new law may be needed as the increase is specifically mandated in Republic Act No. 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018 and there is no provision in the said law that empowers the SSS to stop it.

“Pag-uusapan namin ito sa komite at kung kinakailangan ay maglalabas kami ng bagong batas para maging magaan para sa ating mga kabababayan ang makaahon sa pandemyang ito habang patuloy na nagbabayad ng kanilang kontribusyon sa SSS,” he said.

RA 1199 was enacted on February 7, 2019 to protect the fund life of the SSS which was shortened by ten years from 2042 to 2032 on account of the approved Php 1,000 additional benefit given by President Rodrigo Duterte under the memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated February 22, 2017.

Makabayan bloc wants probe on SSS, GSIS investments with Megawide Construction

Maris Federez   •   December 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives appealed for an investigation to be set on the reported losses incurred by the country’s social insurance agencies in their investments with Megawide Construction Corporation.

As mentioned in House Resolution 2397 filed by Bayan Muna representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat, the total shares of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) with Megawide as of last year have accounted to 4.48% and 3.99%, respectively.

However, the resolution said that these investments suffered losses as widespread market shock brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the share to plummet in 2020 and both agencies were not able to recover since then.

It added that “combining both GSIS and SSS losses, this would amount to a total combined loss of Php1,606,170,711.90

The lawmakers emphasized that “these staggering losses are truly lamentable if it will be considered for instance that SSS is yet to fulfill its commitment to Congress to implement the second tranche of Pph1,000 pension increase” for senior citizens.

The group also said that contributions of the elderly and workers were put in a predicament due to these losses.

“Di na nga naiibigay pa ng SSS ang P1,000 na dagdag sa SSS pension hike dapat ng mga seniors tapos ay inilalagay nila sa alanganin ang inihulog ng mga seniors at mga manggagawa,” Representative Carlos Zarate said.

This, he said, prompted them to call for an investigation by the proper committee in the Lower House.

“Sa ngayon dahil sa naluluging shares na binili nila sa Megawide. dapat talagang maimbestigahan ito ng Kongreso ngayon,” Zarate said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte backs call for Ombudsman probe on Pharmally issue

Maris Federez   •   October 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte supports a call for the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the government’s alleged anomalous procurement of pandemic supplies.

The president was referring to the appeal of the Philippine College of Physicians for the Ombudsman to file appropriate cases against all those accountable in the controversial multibillion-peso deals between the government and Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

“We welcome the call of the Philippine College of Physicians that this matter should be immediately given to our courts and the Ombudsman. We have been saying this for the longest time and we all know that the Senate cannot prosecute. Mabuti pa ang mga doktor alam at naintindihan nila,” Duterte said.

“File cases is the right way to go. Stop using this issue in aid of election. Problema kasi sa Senate natin trying hard maghanap ng mga issue na may nangungurakot o kaya may nagkakapera,” he added.

The chief executive stated that, to date, the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has yet to build a case out of the hearings it has conducted, pointing out that that the said government deal was consistent with Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One-Act.

“And so we go back now to what has been established many times, walang overpricing […} legal ang naging proseso ng pagbili, according to what has been provided by Bayanihan 1. Na-deliver lahat at binayaran nang pagkatapos na-deliver,” the president insisted.

Duterte also dared the Senate to bring the matter to the proper courts.

“And if you think that you have identified companies with tax issues, then file the appropriate cases. Matagal na naman namin sinasabi, kasuhan niyo ang mga dapat kasuhan. Lahat naman talaga dapat magbayad ng buwis at kung kailangan magbayad, singilan para magbayad iyong may mga atraso sa gobyerno kagaya ni Senator Gordon,” Duterte said.

“Eh you call my memorandum ‘stupid?’ Well, I challenge you: bring your arguments to the proper court and I will answer you,” he further stated.

The president also slammed Senator Richard Gordon for threatening to cut the budget of the executive department if the officials will not attend the Blue Ribbon’s hearings, calling it a blatant abuse of power.

“You threaten the budget of different agencies of the Executive because the officials refuse to attend to your hearings. Ito ‘yung mga pang-abuso talaga itong masabi ko sa gobyerno — sa gobyerno ‘pag ka demokrasya, itong separation of powers, co-equal and everything; and they threatened to paralyze government,” Duterte said.

“I challenge you, do it. ‘Pag ka ‘yung mga hearing reduce the budget by one third, hinahamon ko kayo, gawain ninyo ‘yan,” he added. —/mbmf

DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

Robie de Guzman   •   October 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s memorandum prohibiting officials and employees from the Executive Department from attending hearings conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on contracts between the government and the Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation.

During a hearing by the Senate finance committee on the DOJ’s 2022 proposed budget, Guevarra said the memo does not seek to defy the congressional authority to hold legislative inquiries.

“To me, the objective or the essence of this memo is not to defy your authority or prerogative but to protest the manner the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings has been conducted during the past few weeks,” he said.

He also pointed out that the memo was only confined to a particular probe.

The memorandum order signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea covers specifically the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s legislative inquiries into the Commission on Audit report flagging the alleged deficiencies in COVID-19 pandemic spending.

Guevarra clarified that he was not involved in the drafting of the memo but he believes that the main concern may be the amount of time that Cabinet officials spend in the hearing.

The hearings that have since spanned to Duterte’s appointees and other individuals, have been going on for two months.

Guevarra said that this period should have been enough for lawmakers to see if there is any law that needs to be amended or enacted, or some legal provisions that need to be repealed.

He also said he is willing to speak to Medialdea to discuss the memo but stressed that the Senate panel should also make some adjustments as to the manner and timing of the attendance of officials from the Executive branch..

Some groups, including the Philippine Bar Association, have called on Duterte to reconsider his memo as it upsets the system of checks and balances in the government.

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.