Congress adjourns, no vote to override Aquino SSS pension veto

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – About 100 senior citizens who trooped to the House of Representatives on Wednesday, February 3, expressed outrage that congressmen, despite forming a quorum, did not take up the possibility of overriding President Benigno Aquino III’s veto on the Social Security System (SSS) pension hike.

The House adjourned at 7:30 pm for its 15-week break for the campaign and elections. 

During Congress’ last session day, pensioners from in and out of Metro Manila marched to Batasan as early as 2:30 pm, to relay their call to the representatives who were expected at the 4 pm plenary session. The senior citizens were led by progressive groups Bayan Muna and Gabriela.

“Nanawagan kami na 'yung dalawang libo sana maibigay kasi 'yun, malaking bagay sa amin 'yun eh. Pambili namin ng mga gamot. Pambili namin ng mga kailangan, lalong lalo na sa panahon ngayon, hirap na ang buhay,” said 66-year-old Alberto Buenazedacruz.

(We are calling for the P2,000 [increase] to be granted because it is a big thing for us – to buy our medicines, to buy our food, especially nowadays when life is so hard.) 

“Palagay ko naman makakatulong 'yun, 'pag gustong gawin. Walang mahirap 'pag gustong gawin, hindi ba?” the pensioner from Caloocan added. (I believe [our mobilization] will help. If they want to do something, nothing is difficult, they will do it.)

Bearing a heart-shaped sign with the words “Bumoto kayo para sa amin mga lolo’t lola,” Edna Sahgun of Makati said lawmakers should fight for the legislation that they themselves passed.

 

“Paalala ito sa mga congressman, na 'yung 'pinasa nilang batas ay masusugan pa nila,” Sahgun said.  

(This is a reminder to lawmakers to stand by the law they passed.) 

This is not the first time senior citizens mobilized to call for the overturn of the pension hike veto. On Saturday, January 30, pensioners also gathered in Quezon City.  

Earlier in January, Aquino vetoed the measure that seeks to increase monthly pensions, citing the SSS' impending bankruptcy. (READ: EXPLAINER: Are SSS pension funds in peril?

In order to overturn the President’s decision, at least 192 lawmakers should vote to override the measure. Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares earlier called on his colleagues to vote for the benefit of pensioners. 

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr said it is upon the SSS board to provide for a more amenable increase of P1,000. The House leader also called for the passage of the complementary bill that will allow the board to independently raise contribution rates, which will ensure the longevity of SSS funds – a bill it passed but which the Senate didn't.

 

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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