SSS, a GOCC agency of the government-A A +A
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
UNDENIABLY these are the most talked-about topics in our daily newspapers and TV features now. These made me take an active part in these citizen's business. It is about time that government hears our side.
In many instances we, the poor and middle income groups who do not appear on the lists of highest taxpayers of the BIR, are the victims.
I am an 82-year-old widowed SSS pensioner who worked for 45 years of my life serving our country as an educator. Here is my story of "woes" as a poor pensioner.
On Oct. 9, the dailies, radio, and TV features about the SSS compensations, payments, and benefits of members. The public’s uproar started when the news announced that membership fees will be increased effective next year because of shortage in funds for the benefits of the members. Also in the news, a mockery, is the that all the commissioners of SSS will receive one million or more *for Bonuses. Also included are all employees with prorated increases. They call these Performance- based incentive system. They explained that the money came from the huge profits gained when an SSS investment on a property paid off very well.
Do they use their common sense or a more noble ideal in thinking that they alone deserve the bonus? Are these SSS funds sourced from all fees from members automatically deducted from their monthly income tax dues? So, this is our money, too, and not the high officials who do not sweat like us to keep our sustenance for life.
This is my premise why I will narrate my story, like a “teleserye”, from 1952 up to the present, the 45 years of my honest labor. In 1990, I turned 60, the retirement age by law. I was retired from my school, an elite private all girls college in Metro Manila. I was earning 38 thousand pesos a month , one of the highest paid employees. I was a member of SSS of the agency since it started.
I got my statement from my school that my monthly pension will be 3 thousand pesos a month. I went to the SSS main office in Quezon City to inquire about my meager pension. I was told that SSS means social security system. The higher earners must be generous enough to share their higher earnings with the poor members. My innate good nature understood. Do not be surprised.
Now, 2013, my monthly pension is about 5 thousand pesos, after 23 years. Such amount is not even enough to buy my maintenance medicines as a heart attack survivor. I am lucky to have saved in the past and have children who take care of me. My career as a textbook author for high school and college levels from 1989 to year 2000 helped a lot with the royalties earned for which I paid 10 percent of my earnings *on total sales for my taxes.
From year 2000 to year 2009, I was reporting as required to my PNB bank branch in UP Diliman, Q.C. to attest that I was still alive so my pension was still active. Year 2010, I was told that from thereon I should report directly to the main office of SSS since my address is Marikina City. That time I was already in Davao City but could show myself at UP Diliman since we always spent our Christmas holidays in Manila. Now, year 2011, they have a new rule. Each pensioner must report personally to the SSS office near your residence. This means Davao. This should be done on your birth month. Mine is November. That was a problem. I wrote about this in my last article. My Davao Barangay helped me to officially transact my SSS requirements in Davao every November. Brace yourself. The new rule for senior citizen pensioners still alive is to accomplish all the requirements to be sure that their pension is continued. Failure to do this is enough to stop the pension automatically.
Here is the list.
1. Complete mailing address, contact numbers, landline , cp.
2. The bank where my ATM was issued, address.
3. My recent ID picture.
4. The map of the exact location of my house, how to reach it giving streets or landmarks.
5. Your doctors certificate made recently of your health condition and the doctors valid PRC license number.
6. My SSS complete records.
All of these to assure you that your pension, in my case a little more than 5 thousand pesos. Typing all these is a task for me. Compare these to all the wanting and unaccomplished works of the big officials of SSS. I will enumerate them, too. Why can they not find effective ways to prosecute employers who deduct SSS monthly dues from their workers but fail to remit them to your agency?
This is downright a form of corruption in these businesses whoever they are. Pity the workers who when they get sick or die have nothing to get as proceeds of their supposed memberships. Some employers escape by giving the employees from their own resources.
This silences their conscience but how long can this last. Why can SSS not help in catching tax evaders with the BIR? The likes of the Napoleses who have clever cohorts in cheating the agency through big time under the table deals with cooperating agency officials are not caught and prosecuted.
One time when my late husband was going to Germany as a government scholar we went through problems with the SSS. We always got refunds from the SSS. Then we got a summon from another SSS section demanding payment of unpaid taxes. He could not get his passport unless he pays the amount. We responded that how come we got refunds and now we owe them something? The answer was the two offices are not connected. How is that? We were forced to pay because of time pressure. He was to leave for Germany as stipulated in his scholar's contract. Do you call this event efficiency in SSS management? No wonder that there is much discontentment among the Filipinos on how the government is doing to improve the services rendered to all the citizens to everyone's well being.
Let this be a wake up call. If not now; when will this be done? We are hopeful. The president said that the senate and congress will tackle the issues and may recommend the amendments or revisions of the charter and mandate of the SSS to serve all its lowly members in a better and more efficient service.
(Text comments to cp no.09202112534)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 22, 2013.