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No SC TRO vs. SSS contribution hike

January 14, 2014 4:19pm

The Supreme Court on Tuesday did not decide on a request to stop the Social Security System (SSS) from collecting higher contributions from its members starting January 2014.

Instead of issuing a temporary restraining order, the SC, in its first en banc session for the year, gave respondents in the case 10 days to comment on the petition filed by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

The petition, filed last Friday, seeks to stop the implementation of the 0.6 percent increase in SSS members' premium contribution.

“The court required reapondents to comment within 10 days from receipt but deferred action on the prayer for TRO,” said SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te at a press briefing.

Named respondents in the petition were President Benigno Aquino III, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and the SSS, including its president and CEO Emilio de Quiros.

In its petition, KMU asked the high court to issue a TRO against the contribution hike, which it suspects would be used not to improve its members' benefits or extend the life of SSS but as start-up capital for projects under the government's public-private partnership program.

“Workers are determined to stop the implementation of SSS premium hike. It is an unjust burden imposed upon by the Aquino government to further squeeze out our workers dry to fill the pockets of big capitalists and corrupt bureaucrats,” said KMU secretary general Rogelio Soluta.

The group also criticized the Aquino administration for defending the SSS premium contribution hike, branding the administration as “anti-worker and anti-people.”

The SSS contribution increase has the support of Aquino, who even mentioned it in his fourth State of the Nation Address last year.

The KMU said the Aquino administration was merely using “flimsy excuses to justify this extortion.”

The group warned the government of more protests from laborers if the hike does not get permanently junked.

The group said it was not buying SSS's claim the agency was short of funds, citing the controversial “fat bonuses” received by SSS officials last year, reportedly averaging P1 million each.

Malacañang had already said these bonuses were sourced from the revenues of the SSS and not from the contributions of its members.

De Quiros has earlier said the higher contribution rate will allow the pension fund to extend the Social Security Fund or SSF by four more years from 2039 to 2043. SSF is the total contribution of private sector employees currently held by SSS. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News
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