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Bayan Muna: Cabinet trio made Duterte look bad amid SSS hike debacle

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If there’s anything that President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers accomplished, it’s making the Chief Executive look bad before Social Security System (SSS) pensioners.

“Clearly, it is not Congress that is unfair; in truth, it is Secretaries Diokno, Dominguez and Pernia who are unfair to President Duterte for putting him in such a bad light in the eyes of our pensioners,” said former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares in a statement Wednesday, January 4.

Colmenares was referring to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Sonny Dominguez and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General Ernesto Pernia–members of the Cabinet who have dissuaded Duterte from approving the proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase for SSS pensioners.

The former politiko said the Cabinet trio is trying to sway Duterte despite the fact that the new SSS leadership already approved a staggered pension hike during Congress hearings.

Now, the Chief Executive sounds like he isn’t keen on green-lighting the P2,000 increase anymore despite it being one of his campaign promises.

Colmenares was the principal author of the pension hike bill in the previous congresses.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate noted that before they went on Christmas break, the House of Representatives passed a resolution allowing the pension increase in two P1,000-tranches as a concession to the new SSS leadership, which insisted such an arrangement so that the agency can institute internal reforms and raise more funds.

“It is utterly ridiculous for the three Cabinet secretaries to say that the agency would go bankrupt. Initially the fund life of SSS may be shortened, but, to recover and increase it, reforms have to be instituted, precisely, like aggressive increase collections, expansion of membership base and good investments, among others,” Zarate said.