SENTRO, APL reiterate call for SSS commissioners to return their bonuses

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MEMBERS of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), including the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), picketed today the head office of the Social Security System to reiterate their earlier call for the SSS commissioners to return their “scandalous” bonuses to the pension fund’s coffers.

Francisco Mero, SENTRO chair, also stressed the labor center’s demand for the members of the Social Security Commission (SSC), the SSS governing board, to make public all their emoluments and for the Governing Commission for GOCCs (GCG) to revise its rules in bonuses by making them more judicious and transparent.

SENTRO and APL issued a joint statement last week to denounce the fat bonuses of the SSS commissioners as although “legal” but downright “outrageous” and “immoral” amid the pitiful income of most private sector workers – the SSS members – and while millions of them are facing a mandatory hike in contributions starting in January aside from the planned additional premiums every two years.

SENTRO and APL chided the SSS management for its “premature celebration” since while the SSS attained billions of net income, which became the basis for the bonuses, the pension fund’s officials also acknowledged that SSS has a massive P1.1 trillion “unfunded liabilities” or future financial obligations that have no funds yet, thus the supposed need for a series of increases in payments of SSS members.

SENTRO and APL described as ridiculous and skirting the issue the excuse that the bonuses were obtained not from the contributions of SSS members but from the income of SSS.

“It is not actually a chicken-and-egg issue of what came first since obviously the ‘income’ the SSS management is boasting is based on and has been ‘nurtured’ by the payments of SSS members, who patiently and diligently pay their contributions despite the meager benefits and pensions,” Josua Mata, SENTRO secretary general, added.

Similarly the pretext that giving “competitive” incentives to the SSS commissioners to make their compensation on par with or not far from the income level of private sector executives is a mockery of the avowed “public service” expected from officials of state-run institutions like theSSS, as well as avoiding again the focal issue of excesses in the recent bonuses of SSS management, SENTRO and APL further clarified.

As a “Class A” government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC), each SSS commissioner is paid P40,000 every board meeting he/she attends and P24,000 every committee meeting or about P960,000 a year. These are on top of funded or reimbursable transportation, travel, communication and meal expenses.

Early this month, Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president and chief executive officer, admitted that he and seven others in the nine-member SSC received big bonuses – a total of P9.4 million – based on the so-called performance-based incentive (PBI) for the SSS’ achievement in 2012, when it posted a net income of P36.2 billion.

De Quiros further justified the bonuses by saying that SSS employees who passed performance evaluation were also given bonuses – P276 million in total – and the PBI is authorized by law, sanctioned by Malacañang and cited in at least two memorandum circulars of the GCG, the government agency tasked to oversee GOCCs.

SENTRO and APL issued their biting criticism of the bonuses of the commissioners even if Daniel Edralin –concurrent APL chair and SENTRO’s vice chair – sits as one of the three labor representatives in the SSS Commission.

However, contrary to de Quiros’ announcement, Edralin categorically denied that he accepted the P1.12 million bonus or PBI allotted to him, which bolstered the stance of SENTRO and APL on the SSS bonuses and gained him praises from many sectors.

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