Gabriel Pabico Lalu – inquirer.net
The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that would amend the charter of the Social Security System (SSS), giving more overseas Filipino workers (OFW) a chance to avail of the agency’s programs.
All of the 20 senators present voted in favor of the bill’s passage, the Senate said on Tuesday. If enacted, Senate Bill No. 1753 or the “Social Security Act of 2018,” would allow the coverage of land-based and sea-based OFWs, as long as they are not over 60 years old.
“The passage of the bill would expand, protect and increase the SSS fund so that when the time comes, there would be available pension for the people,” bill author and sponsor Senator Richard Gordon said.
“The bill is an enhancement of the previous laws; it ensures hope that the people would not be a burden to the country, that they are partners of the government not by way of exaction of taxes but by their contribution so that their welfare is assured,” he added.
According to Gordon, who chairs the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises, only 500,000 OFWs are covered by SSS. With the proposal, projected SSS membership among OFWs, including Filipinos who were naturalized in other countries, will rise around 2.5 million.
He added that the measure tasks the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment to negotiate for OFWs, while Philippine embassies will collect the SSS contributions.
Aside from widening its coverage, another provision allows SSS to increase the salary credit and contribution of employees.
“The bill envisions a benefits-based system—what you invest is what you get; no investment, no benefit—through which the SSS contributions could be raised without seeking the approval of the President or the endorsement of Congress,” Gordon said.
“The discretion to increase contributions could be left to the better judgment of the SSS board of directors provided it would generate more suitable pensions,” he added.
He also said that SSS can also invest its Reserve Funds to increase its capability as it acquires wealth. However, he noted that investments must comply with requirements of liquidity, safety and security, and yield to ensure the proper utilization of funds.
“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. /jpv