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Business, labor groups urge Duterte to issue EO deferring SSS rate hike

Business and labor leaders have called on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately issue an Executive Order (EO) deferring the increase in the monthly Social Security System (SSS) contributions of both workers and employers.

In a joint letter dated September 27, the groups said that the issuance of an EO is necessary to allow embattled micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to continue to operate their businesses and provide jobs amid the prolonged challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter was signed by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro), Partido Manggagawa (PM), Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FFCCCI), Makati Business Club (MBC), and Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

The groups pointed out that Republic Act (RA) No. 11548, which was signed in May this year, gives the President the authority to defer the scheduled increase in SSS premium contributions for the duration of the declaration of a state of  calamity.

They said the signing of the law is a “positive signal” to employers and employees that “government empathizes with business in its efforts to keep jobs and livelihoods to prevent further economic losses and the resulting social problems.”

“However, four months after the enactment of the law, the Executive Order implementing the Act has yet to be issued, even as the higher SSS premium already took effect last January 2021,” the joint letter read.   

SSS members’ monthly contributions were increased to 13% of their incomes at the start of the year, higher than the current 12% contribution drawn from their salaries.

“It is in this light that we are constrained to write to the President for urgent action on this pending request for the deferment. We have yet to fully reopen and many have already lost their income sources either permanently or temporarily,” the group said.

“Postponing the implementation of the higher SSS premium will be a critical recovery measure by helping sustain the cash flow especially of the very vulnerable MSMEs. It will also serve as a very concrete government contribution to the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) program that is implemented with the private sector,” the groups added.

The letter was signed by PCCI president Benedicto Yujuico, ECOP chairman Edgardo Lacson, PhilExport president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., FFCCCI president Henry Lim Bon Liong, chairman of MBC Edgar Chua, and MAP president Aurelio Montinola III.

Labor leaders signatory in the joint letter are TUCP president Raymond Democrito Mendoza, FFW president Jose Matula, Sentro chairman Daniel Edralin, and PM national chairman Rene Magtubo.—LDF, GMA News