SENATOR Cynthia Villar said Tuesday, July 26, in Manila that the approval of the P2,000 monthly pension increase for pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) is possible within this year.

Villar, proponent of the SSS pension increase, refiled the bill after it was vetoed by former President Benigno Aquino III.

Talking to visiting reporters from Bacolod City, Villar said that she does not see any problem on the passage of the bill because it is a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, and it was already passed by both Houses in the previous Congress.

“Once it becomes a law, it’s not SSS that will decide for itself. It’s a law and they will be forced to follow the law,” she said.

The SSS had explained that their actuarial fund will last only until 2029 and they don't have enough funds for the additional P2,000 per month for its pensioners.

During the hearing, it was found out that SSS’s collection rate is only 38 percent, Villar said.

“They will just increase it to 60 percent so they can afford it. They said they will be bankrupt this year, but it did not happen. Times change and it will be in 2029 yet, so SSS can still collect a lot. If the government can subsidize the Conditional Cash Transfer at the rate of P65 billion a year why not the premiums of SSS,” the senator added.

“We can provide it in the General Appropriations through subsidy. If government can afford it, they should give it to the people. The SSS members deserve the pension increase because they have worked for it for 10 years or 20 years. How can the pensioners live with a monthly pension of P1,200 up to P2,400?” Villar stressed.

Meanwhile, Villar said that although she is no longer the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, she will continue to support organic farming because it’s her personal advocacy.

She now chairs the committees on environment and natural resources; social justice; and social welfare and development.