MANILA, Philippines – On its last session day for 2016, the Senate rushed the approval of a resolution for the immediate release of the first tranche of the P1,000 monthly pension hike for Social Security Service (SSS) members.
The resolution had no number nor an actual document when the Senate passed it on Wednesday, December 14. The chamber adopted it in anticipation of the release of the fund, which the SSS had scheduled before yearend.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the committee on government corporations and public enterprises, sponsored the measure.
“[To] manifest the sense of the Senate to increase the monthly pension of all SSS pensioners by P1,000 effective immediately,” Gordon said in his sponsorship speech.
Asked why they rushed the passage of the resolution, Gordon said the Senate does not want to get left behind because the SSS, even without the document, is set to give the increase this month.
“I already talked to the SSS. They are ready to give it by December. Kung di namin gagawin, ilalabas nila, maiiwan kami sa pansitan. Eh gusto naman talaga ng senador ibigay,” Gordon said in an interview after the session. (If we don't issue a resolution, we'll get left behind. Because they are going to release [the pension hike], and the senators want to give that anyway.)
With the resolution, Gordon said the SSS is already “duty-bound” to implement the hike.
A joint resolution on the P2,000 SSS pension hike is pending before the House of Representatives (Joint Resolution 10) and the Senate (Joint Resolution 5). The House approved it on 2nd reading on Wednesday. The Senate is set to tackle it when session resumes in January 2017.
Under legislative rules, a joint resolution is just like a bill, which requires the approval of both chambers and the signature of the President. It has the force and effect of a law if approved.
“There is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. The latter generally is used when dealing with a single item or issue, such as a continuing or emergency appropriations bill. Joint resolutions are also used for proposing amendments to the Constitution,” Senate rules say.
During the 16th Congress or before his term ended, then President Benigno Aquino III rejected the approved bill increasing the pension by P2,000, saying the proposal would empty SSS coffers. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org