A gov’t that sees com­mon peo­ple’s needs

Manila Bulletin - - Editorial -

T was a choice be­tween the stand taken by three eco­nomic man­agers in the cab­i­net and a group of sec­re­taries con­cerned with more hu­man needs and prob­lems. Pres­i­dent Duterte de­cided for the lat­ter and thus ap­proved a pro­posed in­crease in the pen­sions of old re­tired mem­bers of the So­cial Se­cu­rity Sys­tem (SSS).

An in­crease of P1,000 will be given im­me­di­ately this month – a long awaited bless­ing for many old work­ers who need help with their med­i­cal bills. Af­ter four years, or even ear­lier, as the SSS im­proves its fi­nances through bet­ter man­age­ment in col­lec­tions and investments, an­other P1,000 will be given, SSS Chair­man Amado Valdez and SSS Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Dooc as­sured.

This will be one wel­come Jan­uary for so many re­tirees who, only a year ago, had gone through the same process of great ex­pec­ta­tions, only to be sorely dis­ap­pointed when then Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino III ve­toed the law in­creas­ing their pen­sions, claim­ing it would cause “dire fi­nan­cial con­se­quences.” Can­di­date Duterte, even then, had seen the plight of the re­tirees, some of them had pen­sions as low as P2,500. If elected pres­i­dent, he said then, he would sup­port a re­filed SSS pen­sion bill.

To help make up for the ad­di­tional fund­ing needed by SSS, the Pres­i­dent di­rected SSS of­fi­cials to crack down on em­ploy­ers who fail to re­mit the SSS con­tri­bu­tions of their em­ploy­ees. He also or­dered a stop to ex­ces­sive al­lowances and hon­o­rar­i­ums the SSS pays some of its top of­fi­cials.

It is said that some other govern­ment-owned or con­trolled cor­po­ra­tions have sim­i­lar lib­eral al­lowances and other re­mu­ner­a­tions for their of­fi­cials. Now that he has started with the SSS, the Pres­i­dent might want to carry out the cleans­ing process in th­ese other govern­ment cor­po­ra­tions.

The SSS of­fi­cials must be com­mended for it is they who pro­posed the two-in­stall­ment pen­sion plan af­ter they made a study of their own fi­nances. They and the ma­jor­ity of Cab­i­net mem­bers who helped Pres­i­dent Duterte make up his mind in fa­vor of a pen­sion in­crease — no mat­ter how lim­ited – are the kind of of­fi­cials we hope to see more of in govern­ment.

We value the ex­per­tise of economists in govern­ment who look at the big pic­ture of na­tional fi­nances, with eyes fixed on such sta­tis­tics as Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) growth. But along with such sta­tis­ti­cal pros­per­ity, we value a govern­ment that sees and un­der­stands com­mon peo­ple’s needs and strives to meet them. I

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