THE approval of the P1,000 increase in the monthly Social Security System (SSS) pension is a victory for those who struggled for its realization, a progressive group leader in Negros Occidental said.

Christian Tuayon, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros (Bayan-Negros), said they welcome the move of President Rodrigo Duterte of approving the partial increase.

The initial proposal was P2,000 across-the-board pension increase.

Tuayon said they are amenable to the scheme providing the initial increase of P1,000 this year, and the same amount in 2022, or at an earlier time, rather than no increase at all.

“The approval is a product of the strong actions made by those who supported and fought for the pension increase,” he added.

Bayan-Negros, however, maintained its opposition to the proposed additional contribution to be paid by SSS members.

The group scored the pronouncements of Duterte’s economic managers that increasing the contributions is necessary to prevent bankcruptcy in the agency.

“The government’s budget is bigger this year thus, it can actually provide subsidy to SSS on top of payments being paid continuously by its members,” Tuayon said.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Tuesday the pension increase will be sourced from current SSS contributions and Investment Reserve Fund.

He explained though that while Duterte approved to raise the monthly pension, the Chief Executive was not amenable to using taxpayers’ money to fund the increase since SSS is a private pension fund.

SSS chair Amado Valdez, who was at the same press briefing Tuesday, said the P1,000 hike would be distributed to SSS pensioners within this month.

SSS president Emmanuel Dooc, however, said there may be slight delays in the distribution as SSS has to “recomputed” its finances.

“There might be a slight delay but we will do our best to resolve this immediately,” Dooc said.

As a result of the approved pension hike, Abella said the contribution rate would increase in May this year by 1.5 percent, or 12 percent from the current 11 percent contribution rate.

Abella said the additional total contribution will range from P15 to P740. It means that an additional premium of P15 will be added to monthly contribution of SSS members paying the minimum P110, while P740 premium will be added to members paying the maximum P1,760.

Dooc said the 1.5 percent increase in contribution would be done every year. The initial proposal was to increase the pension of SSS members by P2,000.

Valdez said that during the Cabinet meeting held Monday, the additional P1,000 was already “part of the package” approved by the President but was still “subject to conditionality.”

He said the next P1,000 increase might be received by 2022 or at the earlier time.

“We projected the next P1,000 [increase in pension] in 2022 but if we are able to implement and get favorable results, it would be earlier. It might be accomplished by 2019,” Valdez said. (With reports from Sunnex)