Bicam approves bill to overhaul SSS Charter, expand powers

MANILA, Philippines – The bicameral conference committee on Tuesday, October 9, approved the bill repealing Republic Act 8282 or the Social Security Act of 1997 and expanding the powers of the Social Security Commission.

The House contingent in the bicam agreed to adopt the Senate version, Senate Bill 1753 or the Social Security Act of 2018. The final version would have to be ratified by both chambers of Congress before it is enrolled for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.

SB 1753 seeks to ensure the long-term viability of the SSS by professionalizing the SSS board and expanding the agency's powers. The bill requires board members to be a professional in law, management, banking, or insurance.

“We have improved with this version the Charter of the Social Security System. Remember that the SSS is a fund and you manage the fund for the future of our retirees or employees, so this is very important that the commission should be composed of professional members,” Senate Minority Franklin Drilon, one of the sponsors, told reporters in an interview.

Senator Richard Gordon, one of the bill authors, said the measure’s passage would “expand, protect and increase the SSS fund so that when the time comes, there would be available pension for the people.”

“We want to develop a culture of work, save, invest, prosper. The bill envisions a benefits-based system – what you invest is what you get; no investment, no benefit. But the maximum profitability of investible funds and resources of the program shall be ensured through a culture of excellence in management grounded upon sound and efficient policies employing internationally recognized best practices,” Gordon said.

OFWs

The bill also requires SSS coverage of both land-based and sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), not older than 60 years old.

Under the measure, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment would be the primary agencies that "would negotiate for the OFWs" in their host countries.

Gordon said there are only 500,000 OFWs currently covered by the SSS. The bill seeks to expand this to 2.5 million members.

Gordon said the expanded powers are needed since it would allow the SSS management to increase the salary credit and contribution of employees "considering that at present it is only limited to PI6,000 which yields very little benefit."

Under the new reforms, the SSS is authorized to invest its reserve funds to "grow the wealth of SSS and ultimately yield higher income." 

"The bill does not promise an abundance of wealth but to secure people in case they would encounter unwanted situations in their lives through a lifeline that they themselves created through their contribution," Gordon said. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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