Joint Statement of SENTRO and APL on the scandalous ‘incentives’ of SSS commissioners

SSS bldg

Philippine Social Security System building

Last week, Emilio de Quiros Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Social Security System (SSS), almost nonchalantly admitted that he and seven others in the nine-member Social Security Commission (SSC) got huge bonuses as part of the so-called performance-based incentive (PBI) for the state-run pension fund’s accomplishment in 2012, when it posted a net income of P36.2 billion or 42 percent year on year increase.

De Quiros, who is also the concurrent vice chair of the SSC, the governing board of the SSS, further justified the commissioners’ “windfall reward” for a supposedly job well done by emphasizing that SSS employees who passed the performance evaluation also received bonuses, and the PBI is authorized by law and specified by Memorandum Circulars 2012-14 and 2012-11 issued by the Governing Commission for GOCCs (GCG), the government agency that oversees government-owned and -controlled corporations like the SSS.

We, the members and leaders of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) and its mother labor center, the newly established SENTRO or Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, express our disgust and alarm over this unconscionable and scandalous “bonus” – while the Filipino people are still reeling from the shock and anger over the misuse of billions or possibly trillions of pesos of public funds notably the PDAF-DAP-presidential pork barrels; and while millions of SSS members are facing a mandatory increase in contributions starting in January as well as the planned additional premiums every two years.

It is also ironic that although the SSC boasts of achieving billions of net income – the basis for the bonuses of P9.4 million for the SSS commissioners and P276 million for qualified SSS employees – the SSS top management also acknowledged that the pension fund has an astounding P1.1 trillion “unfunded liabilities” or future financial obligations that have no funds yet, thus the purported need for a series of hikes in payments of SSS members. Thus, is the granting of generous if not appalling perks a case of “premature celebration” among SSS executives?

Belonging to a “Class A” GOCC, every SSS commissioner is paid P40,000 every board meeting he/she attends and P24,000 per committee meeting or an annual maximum of P960,000. Indeed, the gaping and unjust income divide and privileges between ordinary workers and employers are also happening even in a pension fund – called SSS – bankrolled by private sector workers.

SENTRO and APL extend our deep solidarity to the SSS members, the “lowly” workers who patiently and diligently pay their contributions despite meager benefits and pensions in return. They are the true and principal SSS benefactors and the ones who keep alive this pension fund.

SENTRO and APL reiterate this resolve and principled stand even if one of our top leaders – Daniel Edralin, the chair and vice chair of APL and SENTRO, respectively – sits as one of the three labor representatives in the SSS Commission. In fairness to him, the APL and SENTRO proudly announce to the public, especially the SSS members, that Danny Edralin has not accepted this “bonus”.

SENTRO and APL call all the members of the SSC, especially those who represent the workers, to do the honorable thing. They owe it to their members or the workers and SSS members that they represent to reject these unreasonable bonuses – or return them to the SSS coffers if they already received them.

While the said “incentives” are within the rules and are sanctioned by the GCG or even endorsed by Malacañang, they are nonetheless outrageous if not outright immoral and an affront to ordinary workers, the SSS members, for such huge bonuses are even way beyond what these workers would earn during their usual working lives.

We also call on the SSS Commission and the GCG to once again review and revise their rules and policies on “incentives,” including the PBI, by making them more just and transparent, as well as with the end in view of further cutting down the long list of emoluments given by the various GOCCs and GFIs (government financial institutions).

Finally, SENTRO and APL are urging the SSS Commission to bare to the public all the emoluments it enjoys.