Two women workers from the Industrial Group Philippines Inc. (IGPI), a small factory in Meycauayan, Bulacan, have petitioned SSS in 1997 to investigate an anomaly in its system of granting benefits when fictitious maternity benefit claims using the petitioners’ names in late 1996 were approved and released without them filing for such claims. However, further inquiry later revealed that more women employees have found to have claimed their maternal benefits without these persons giving birth and getting married or are married but have been already ligated. They constantly followed it up but no action was taken by the SSS. Unfortunately, the incident happened again in 2001 when five (5) workers did not file such claims but were found on SSS records to have already claimed their maternity benefits. Again, further inquiries revealed that more employees were victimized by said nefarious activities.
These incidents are but a mere speck of dust of the countless anomalies that would not have happened without the knowledge of SSS personnel and even SSS top officials.
As we all know, corruption engulfs the social security system. For its top officials, certainly the stakes are much higher. Case in point, the former President of the Republic and top executives of SSS have unabashedly carried out more blatant display of mischief and flimsy investments that eventually led to huge losses of SSS funds to the detriment of its 23-million members.
Funds amounting to 34.5 billions of pesos were divested in just 31 months during the Estrada presidency. The government lost P6.4 billion in PLDT, P1.4 billion in Union Bank, P2.8 billion in Meralco and P12 billion in PCI-Equitable transactions. This does not include the P150 million losses it endured when it was prodded by Estrada to invest P745million in Belle Corp. where Estrada received P189 million as commission in exchange for the investment. Apart from this, it is a well known fact that top SSS executives receive salaries of not less than 350,000 pesos a month thus increasing SSS operating costs to a whopping 4.2 billion pesos in 2000, nearly double from 1997’s 2.3 billion pesos putting a tenth of the members contribution to the executive’s salaries alone. Apparently, SSS executives receive fantastic and galactic salaries only to mismanage and let powerful individuals in the society to loot the people’s money.
Now, Gloria Arroyo, in an apparent attempt to recover billions of pesos in losses due to the unabated corruption and investment of SSS funds to questionable transactions, has opted to bleed the workers further by increasing premium payments by 6% to 22%. Instead of going after the crooks in the SSS and restructure its system to ensure rightful delivery of service and prudent handling of its funds, Arroyo will further squeeze the workers of their meager pay without any increase in workers benefits.
The Alliance of Progressive Labor calls on the government not to inflict more miseries to the already impoverished Filipino people by deciding against their interest only to maintain a system infested by a few who have no other business but to exploit the workers. The system should be overhauled and should have transparency in all of its undertakings. After all, what they are using is the people’s money.