P15.63B calamity loans, P190M unemployment benefits of COVID-hit workers approved in July – SSS

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2020   •   852

MANILA, Philippines – The Social Security System (SSS) has so far approved P15.63 billion in novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) calamity assistance loans, as of July 28, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Tuesday.

The SSS also approved P190.02 million in unemployment insurance benefits from July 1 to 27 this year, to tide over members heavily hit by the pandemic’s economic fallout, the DOF added.

According to SSS President and CEO Aurora Cruz Ignacio, they have approved more than one million applications for its Calamity Loan Assistance Package (CLAP) for the COVID-19 outbreak since its online filing was launched last June 15.

Ignacio said the Calamity Loan for COVID-19 will run for a period of three months starting June until September 14, 2020 only.

Online application for the loan is now mandatory, she added.

The calamity loan for COVID-19 carries a six percent interest per annum commencing on the 4th month with a 27-month term, inclusive of a three-month moratorium.

The SSS said members who are involuntary separated from work can avail of unemployment insurance equivalent to a half of their average monthly salary credit for a maximum of two months.

To qualify, they should have paid the requisite minimum number of monthly contributions for three years, twelve of which should have been made in the eighteen-month period immediately preceding the month of involuntary separation.

Velasco files bills granting president power to suspend PhilHealth, SSS rate hikes

Robie de Guzman   •   January 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday said he has filed two separate bills seeking to grant the president the power to suspend the scheduled increases in the contribution rates of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) and the Social Security System (SSS) in times of national emergencies.

In a statement, Velasco said his twin measures propose to amend Republic Act (RA) 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act, and RA 11199 or the Social Security Act of 2018, which provide for gradual increases in monthly premium contributions in PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.

The bills authorize the president to suspend the implementation of the scheduled increases in premium rates in times of national emergencies “when public interest so requires.”

But this should be in consultation with the secretaries of health and finance departments as chairpersons of PhilHealth and SSS, respectively.

The measures were filed after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of the premium rate increase.

Velasco said RA 11223 was enacted in 2018 to ensure that all Filipinos are guaranteed equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services, and protected against financial risk.

He said the intent of the law is clear and cannot be overemphasized—Filipinos need and deserve a comprehensive set of health services that are cost-effective, of high quality, and responsive.

The House speaker, however, stressed that the current situation is extraordinary and that Congress must respond accordingly as he called for the swift approval of the bills aimed at alleviating the financial burden faced by many Filipino workers amid the crisis.

“While we recognize that the [PhilHealth] only aims to implement the provisions of RA 11223, imposing a higher premium rate to our kababayans under our current conditions will definitely enforce a new round of financial burden to its members,” Velasco said in the explanatory note of House Bill 8316.

“Suspending the imposition of the new PhilHealth premium rates will provide a much-needed relief from the negative effects of the pandemic and will assure Filipinos that the government is sensitive to their sentiments,” he said.

In filing HB 8317, Velasco said the temporary suspension of the hike in SSS contributions will help the workforce achieve faster recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

“We are witnesses to the negative impact of this COVID-19 outbreak. Under this pretext, the sovereign government must be given the prerogative to bend the rules of the social security law in favor of the greater good,” Velasco said.

He likewise said that increasing the rate of contributions of SSS members will “strikingly undermine the recovery effort of everyone suffering from job losses, wage reduction, business closures, and health-related issues.”

SSS, handang ipagpaliban ang dagdag-kontribusyon para sa taong 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   January 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Handang ipagpaliban ng Social Security System (SSS) ang paniningil ng dagdag-kontribusyon sa mga miyembro nito para sa taong 2021, kasunod ng mga panawagan at batikos ng iba’t ibang grupo sa gitna ng nararanasang krisis pangkalusugan.

Ayon kay SSS President/CEO Aurora Ignacio, ipinaiiral na nila ang umento sa kontribusyon alinsunod sa itinatakda ng Republic Act 11199 o ang Social Security Act.

Mula sa dating 12%, itinaas na sa 13% ang antas ng kontribusyon ngayong taon.

Layunin nito na mapahaba ang buhay ng pondo ng SSS at umabot hanggang taong 2054.

Subalit kung ipag-uutos ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte o kaya ay magpasa ng batas ang Kongreso, sinabi ni Ignacio na handa silang ipagpaliban ang implementasyon nito.

“Marami naman talaga kaming plano na ibigay na benefits ngayon pati yung projected contribution pero kung yan po ay isasabatas o imamandato sa amin ng Palasyo at Presidente, kami po ay susunod,” ang pahayag ni Ignacio.

Bagaman naiintindihan nila ang hirap na nararanasan ng maraming Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho at nalugi ang negosyo dahil sa COVID-19 pandemic, iginiit ng ahensiya na mahalagang maipatupad ang dagdag-kontribusyon upang maibigay ang karampatang benepisyo at pension sa mga miyembro.

“Madami din naman ang nawalan ng trabaho or nagkaroon ng businesses na nagbawas ng tao. Kung ito, apektado rin ang SSS na nabawasan ang contribution na natanggap namin pero ‘yun po kasing benefits ay hindi nababawasan ito ay lalo pang nadadagdagan dahil kailangan ito ng mga miyembro natin kaya karamihan sa kanila ay nag-a-avail ng benefits ngayon lalo na yung calamity loan na binigay natin last 2020,” ani Ignacio.

Noong Lunes ng gabi, iniutos ng pangulo ang pagpapaliban sa pagpapatupad ng dagdag-kontribusyon ng Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) kasabay ng pangakong hahanap ng paraan ang pamahalaan para mapunan ang pondo ng ahensiya.

Gayunman, hindi nito binanggit kung may plano rin siyang suspindihin ang SSS contribution increase ngayong taon. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Joan Nano)

Bill seeking deferment of SSS contribution hike pushed

Marje Pelayo   •   January 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A proposed bill was filed in the Senate seeking the deferment of contribution increase among members of the Social Security System (SSS).

This shall be through an amendment in the provision of the Social Security System Act of 2018, particularly Section 4.

According to Senator Joel Villanueva, the SSS still has enough funds to sustain its services even with a one-year suspension of contribution increase based on the agency’s collections in 2019.

With this, the lawmaker called on his colleagues in the Senate to expedite the passage of the measure on the matter.

“Gusto natin na mag-status quo lang po tayo, for this year alone, 2021. Wala naman pong naka-anticipate na magkakaroon ng ganitong pandemya, at mahihirapan nang husto ang ating mga manggagawang kababayan, ang ating mga employers,” he said.

“Bigyan po natin sila ng konting panahon pa para maka-recover, until such a time na, yun ho. Puwede na nating i-increase ulit ang contribution ng SSS,” he added.

For his part, Senator Richard Gordon acknowledged the need for a new measure that will help the public recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“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,” said Gordon, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Corporation and Public Enterprises.

The Senate has asked the SSS to submit proposals on ways to defer the contribution hike in consideration to the ongoing pandemic.

In a statement Tuesday (January 5), the SSS stressed that the scheduled increase in its contribution rate and minimum and maximum monthly salary credits (MSCs) is to ensure the continuous delivery of social security protection to its members and their beneficiaries.

SSS President and CEO Aurora C. Ignacio said that the SSS has been listening to the clamor of various labor groups and members to defer the said mandated increases; however, the move is designed to protect the fund life of the SSS.

“We understand the plight of our covered employers and members, but, at the same time, it is our duty to secure the long-term viability of the SSS fund entrusted to us for the continuous delivery of SSS benefits to our current and future members, as well as their beneficiaries,” Ignacio said.

This January 2021, the SSS contribution rate was increased to 13 percent from the previous 12 percent. 

The SSS emphasized that the said reforms will allow members to save more for their retirement.

Ignacio said that any delay in implementing the said reforms could endanger the fund life of the SSS and its ability to provide its members and their beneficiaries with benefits and loan privileges, especially in this time of the pandemic. -MNP (with inputs from Harlene Delgado)

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