Press Release
January 27, 2021


Mr. President and esteemed colleagues:

It is my honor to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 2027 under Committee Report No. 166 introduced by the Senate Committee on Government Corporation and Public Enterprises chaired by our very hardworking colleague, Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon and Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resource Development chaired by this representation.

We would also like to thank the good Chairman for considering our bill, Senate Bill No. 1965 as one of the three (3) Senate Bills that have been considered in drafting the committee report.

Mr. President, please allow me to take a few minutes to raise at least three points why we are pushing this bill that seeks to grant the President of the Philippines the power and authority to suspend or defer the implementation of the mandated increase in SSS contribution.

FIRST, there is no debate that membership contribution is the lifeblood of a pension fund.

But when there is little to draw from an economy bleeding jobs, from businesses hemorrhaging from lack of sales, from workers who have to work shorter hours for less, then government must extend to those who pay this payroll tax the same relief it had extended to those with house rents and bank loans: IMPOSE A MORATORIUM.

What we are proposing, Mr. President, is not a forgiveness but a freeze, for the time being and not forever. And it will not cover the entire monthly contribution but only the increase that is supposed to take effect this year.

Let me stress that this is not a payment holiday but a pause, not for the entire dues but only a portion, to be lifted when the pandemic has retreated and when normalcy has returned to our lives.

SECOND, some say that this bill is driven by the desire to be populist. No, Mr. President, this is motivated by our obligation to help.

Facts and figures are also on our side:

By the government's count, 3.8 million of our kababayans lost their jobs in October 2020. But if the SWS survey is to be the gauge, the unemployed numbered 27.3 million as of September 2020.

Our GDP also contracted by 11.5 percent in the third quarter of 2020, the fastest shrinking in the region. But we're racing to the front in piling up Covid cases. AND GOD knows where we are in the vaccine race.

This plunge only mirrors the number of companies who have found themselves in the hole - according to DOLE there were 2,167 companies that have been forced to shut down permanently, while 100,290 closed temporarily as a matter of survival, leaving their workers who have families to feed with nothing to survive on.

Tapos, kokolektahan pa rin natin sila ng dagdag na SSS contribution?

THIRD, and lastly, Mr. President, we are by nature an optimist who even in the darkest of days view the future through the prism of hope.

But believe me I rid myself of this bias in studying the SSS books - impassionately. And what I see is that our proposal is not a prescription for bankruptcy, as we are made to believe by a few people.

This temporary halt in SSS premium hike, in the name of compassion, will not sink the SSS. It will remain financially buoyant. Yes, there will be a momentary dip in income, but it is not, and never be, an irreversible disaster.

Let me briefly explain, Mr. President:

Sa presentation po kahapon ng SSS, ang nakita po natin ay mga numero sa mga charts and tables. Cold numbers. Pero sa likod ng mga numerong iyan ay mga buhay na tao. Warm bodies.

Halimbawa po ang manggagawang si Elena Parena na isang massage therapist sa Maynila ay napilitang mag-temporary leave dahil sa mga quarantine restrictions last year[1]. Dahil walang trabaho, nauwi sa pamamasura at pangongolekta ng mga tira-tirang pagkain sa kalapit nilang palengke para may makain ang kanyang mag-anak.

Mr. President, according to SSS estimates[2], the proposed SSS contribution rate increase this year 2021 is an estimated Php 15 to Php 100 per covered employee. This amount may not seem much, however for our minimum wage workers and workers who earn lower than the minimum wage, the amount is more than enough to purchase an additional meal for their families.

Ang problema, Mr. Chairman, ang kadalasang ehemplong ibinibigay ng SSS sa atin ay yung kumikita ng P10,000 a month. Kasi nga naman pag maliit sahod, maliit ang dagdag-premium.

Pero kung ang titingnan po natin ay yung kumikita ng Php30,000 kada buwan, ang bayarin nila ay nasa Php3,280. Yung Php2,155 pasan ng employer, yung Php1,125 sagot ng manggagawa.

Pati kasambahay, tatamaan ang kakarampot n'yang kita na Php5,000 kung nasa NCR, dahil Php 600 na po agad ang kaltas, Php435 sagot ng employer at Php225 sagot ng kasambahay.

Mr. President, temporarily suspending or deferring the SSS contribution rate increase this year will ease the burden of our workers and businesses until they can get back to their feet. One way to do this is by granting the President the power and authority to suspend or defer the implementation of the mandated increase in SSS contribution rates in times of emergency or calamity for a minimum period of 6 months. Of course, the President may extend the suspension if it is necessary to protect public interest and welfare.

Uulitin ko po: hindi po ito forever, pansamantala lang po. Ang minimum ay anim na buwan o hanggang makabangong pong muli ang ating mga negosyante't manggagawa.

Umaasa po ang representasyon na ito sa sana po maipasa po natin sa lalong madaling panahon.

Maraming salamat po. God bless us all.

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