THE state-run Social Security System launched its own version of the Philippine National Police’s “Operation Tokhang” against 13 delinquent companies based in Mandaue City on Friday morning, June 14, 2019.
With its own version of “Operation Toktok Hangyo or Knock and Plead,” SSS dubbed its own campaign “Run After Contribution Evaders” or Race launched in 2017 to run after violators of the Social Security Law.
The 13 firms are ClintKAMMS Corp., Phialo Trading Corp., EFM Staffing, Cherryl Serino, Soko Motorcycle Parts, Giardini Del Sole, E-Style & Inspiration in Photography, YSS Motorshop, Unishop Enterprises, Unite General Merchandise Inc., RLB Apparel Shop, Cebruery Artisanal Ales and Lagers Production and Ma. Consuelo Food Service.
SSS Senior Vice President for Visayas Operations Group Helen Solito, who led the operation, said they timed the Race while the pension fund has offered a condonation program that started in March until Sept. 1, this year, for companies who failed to pay their employees’ contribution.
She said these firms serve as “pilot areas” in Cebu as the Race campaign serves as warning for other erring companies.
Race was held simultaneously in Mandaluyong City for National Capital Region, Pampanga for Central Luzon and Dipolog City for Mindanao and Mandaue City for Visayas.
Starting at 8 a.m. Friday, Solito and the Race team held a meeting with representatives of the companies at the City Time Square 2 reminding them of the legal obligations of their employers.
After an hour, the Race team then conducted the “Tokhang” on the 13 firms accompanied by the Mandaue City Police Office and the Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue or Team.
Their violations include delinquent payment of contribution, non-production of records, non-registration and non-reporting of employees. The campaign, Solito said, is also in compliance with Republic Act 11199 or the Social Security Act of 1997.
Part of the pension fund’s visit was also to give employers the show cause order giving them 15 days to explain why they should not face legal sanctions for not following the law. The order said if the employer fails to comply, it will face criminal prosecution and a penalty of jail time without the benefit of probation.
Upon arrival at the company premises, workers and representatives were told that this is the second time that the company has been given a demand letter.
SSS had even sent its personnel to visit these offices to assist them in resolving their lapses. But it has been a year or more than a year for some that no action has been done to correct the violations, Solito said.
“Our objective here is to emphasize to the employers their obligation to their employees. We encourage them to settle their obligations in the interest of the employees, not for SSS. This is also timely because we have our condonation program and their penalties will be condoned. Thus they will only pay the contribution which is already a big savings on their end,” Solito said in Cebuano.
Solito added this campaign is already a big help to companies since the last condonation program they did was in 2010.
Several employees who were around during the operation were grateful to the SSS for what it did.
Dencio Palmero, an employee of the printing division of ClintKAMMS Corp., said he’s been with the company for four years already and was only regularized after two years.
He and his wife only learned recently that the company had not been remitting their monthly contributions for one year now including their Philhealth contributions despite getting regular deductions as shown in their payslips.
“We have complained several times already but they’re really stubborn. They told us instead to resign if we don’t want to get stressed. What we want is if we resign we will be given what is due us,” Palmero said.
Giovanni Boschi, owner of Giardini del Sole, a reknowned furniture manufacturing firm in Cebu, faced SSS officials and explained the reason why they have been remiss in their contributions for sometime now.
He said the furniture industry had been so badly hit by the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis or the full-on housing crisis in the US that it left them losing thousands of dollars in income due to the lack of demand for their products.
He said in 2000, they were earning $100,000 every week and were employing 800 people. But in 2011 or four years after the 2007 US housing crisis, their income had drastically dropped to 4,000 US dollars a week. Boschi said they had to lay off more than 500 workers to sustain operations.
Giardini del Sole now has 280 employees left and Boschi said instead of closing shop, like other export companies that were badly hit by the 2007 crisis, the company chose to continue operations in the interest of the workers. He said he could have opted to retire but decided to keep afloat the company to keep the remaining workers.
“Me, I struggle myself. You have to pay the rent, the wood, the people. My priority is always the payroll. My priority is the cash advance. We have already (spent) almost P1 million (in) cash advance for the 13th month (pay) because the people need that for school,” Boschi told SSS officials.
Solito and her team said they understood his situation but reminded him that it is his obligation as employer to pay for his workers’ SSS contribution as the pension fund can be used by workers in times of illness, giving birth, and for taking out loans and receiving pensions.
Boschi assured SSS officials he would comply with the law. (from FE MARIE D. DUMABOC of SuperBalita Cebu/VLA)