PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE: Since 1997 © Copyright (PHNO) http://newsflash.org

NOY'S CORNER THIS PAST WEEK...
(MINI-READS followed by FULL REPORTS below)

ABAD NOW SCROUNGING FOR FUNDS IN 2016 BUDGET TO FINANCE HIGHER PENSION RATE FOR RETIRED SOLDIERS AND COPS
[TAXPAYERS TO SUBSIDIZE P20 B FOR AFP, PNP PENSION HIKE??]


JANUARY 22 -The Department of Budget and Management is now scrounging for fund sources in the 2016 national budget to finance a higher pension rate for retired soldiers and policemen. Philstar.com/File
Unlike the vetoed P2,000 Social Security System (SSS) pension increase, for which President Aquino does not want to use public funds, taxpayers would be asked to subsidize a higher pension rate for retired soldiers and policemen. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is now scrounging for fund sources in the 2016 national budget to finance the hiked pension, which is part of the Senate version of the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 4 or the fourth multi-year government-wide salary increase program supposed to take effect last Jan. 1. But government nurses and other health workers, along with state science and technology employees, are not happy with this development as they criticized the proposed repeal of the Magna Carta for Health Workers and the Magna Carta for Science and Technology Workers. The health group also scheduled a national protest on Jan. 28. Robert Mendoza, Alliance of Health Workers president, explained that an SSL approval would repeal the Magna Carta and eventually give workers lower income. “While SSL passage provides for a P2,000 increase in the monthly pay of health workers, it would also mean losing P10,000 to P15,000 in benefits that are provided under the Magna Carta,” he explained. Angelo Palmones, president of Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan, gave the same argument, stressing that a repeal shows how the government fails to appreciate science and technology workers and to encourage them to stay and serve the country. He pointed out that science and technology workers fought hard for the Magna Carta, which was enacted in 1997 but funded only in 2012. Before that, the benefits given them were funded through savings the department made. The House of Representatives and the Senate are determined to pass the proposed SSL 4 before the Feb. 6 adjournment for the election campaign, said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. SSL 4 contains the planned four-year salary increases for the 1.5 million government personnel, although the House and Senate versions still need to be reconciled. READ MORE...

ALSO: Ex-PNP brass claims owning Mamasapano tapes vs Noy


JANUARY 24 -Supt. Diosdado Valeroso Photo from retired Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso Facebook account Reminiscent of the explosive Hello Garci tapes that implicated former President Gloria Arroyo to the massive and orchestrated cheating in the 2004 elections and which nearly brought down her administration, a retired Philippine National Police (PNP) general said an audio recording in his possession will prove a conspiracy in covering up President Aquino’s direct hand in the Mamasapano debacle. Retired Chief Insp. Diosdado Valeroso said he has obtained a recording that lasts for 15 to 20 minutes and which contained a conversation that took place exactly two days after the January 25 incident that resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. Valeroso who attended a forum yesterday was elusive on the content of the alleged recording but he said it will be passed on to the Senate on January 27 when the probe on the tragic incident is reopened. Valeroso, without giving details, also described the subject of the conversation as an attempt to insulate the peace agreement between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the incident. “What is most glaring in the said evidence is that there is an effort to cover up guilt and protect (somebody),” Valeroso said. The former official of the PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said the recording was between a high-ranking government official and a legislator. During the conversation, one of the unnamed individuals told the other to ignore what happened in Mamasapano to prevent delaying the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The conversation in gist was between two persons discussing the possibility of playing down the incident so as not to affect the peace agreement with the MILF,” he said. He said he obtained the audio recording through email and was sent by a credible source. Blood is in the hands of President Aquino as he is the most accountable in the infamous Mamasapano massacre, legislators belonging to the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives also declared yesterday. Ahead of the reopening of the Senate hearing on the botched Oplan Exodus, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said there’s nobody else to blame for the massacre but the commander in chief, Aquino. “Without any hesitation, Noynoy Aquino is accountable for he did not do anything to save the SAF despite the fact that he has the direct access and information of the operation,” Atienza said yesterday in a media forum. “Noynoy allowed them to get killed”, he added. “For doing nothing, Aquino allowed the slaughter of the SAF 44,” he added. READ MORE...RELATED, Will PNoy respond to Mamasapano probe? Poe says Aquino can’t be compelled to attend Senate inquiry...

ALSO: Palace rules out PNoy testimony; Quezon III downplays Valeroso's  key evidence tape audio


JANUARY 24 -MANUEL QUEZON III PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will no longer submit an affidavit to the Senate committee which will reopen its investigation into the Mamasapano incident that resulted in the 67 people, including 44 police commandos, killed on Jan. 27, 2015. “I don’t see why there would be a reason for the President to submit an affidavit,” Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said in an interview with state-run radio dzRB on Saturday. “Let us not forget that the Senate has already conducted its hearing and that it has concluded its probe. It was a very extensive hearing,” Quezon said of the probe to be conducted by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Senator Grace Poe.
Poe reopened the probe at the behest of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile who claimed he had evidence to prove that Aquino did nothing to stop the clash between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force. The commandos were killed in the course of “Oplan Exodus,” a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, who was hiding with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. KEY EVIDENCE
PHOTO: VALEROSO
KEY EVIDENCE. Former police general Diosdado Valeroso explains to journalists how he came to possess an audio recording between unidentified police officials who were apparently talking about a cover-up of the Mamasapano massacre. JANSEN ROMERO Marwan was killed in the operation but the operation turned into a disaster when the SAF commandos ran into fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, triggering a day-long series of clashes. Aside from the slain commandos, 17 MILF fighters and three civilians were also killed and the Mindanao peace process almost scuttled. Retired police general Diosdado Valeroso, a former Special Action Force official, also claimed on Saturday he had “critical” proof of an attempted cover-up of the Mamasapano encounter. Valeroso, a former leader of the Young Officers Union who is now running the Senate, said he is in possession of an audio recording between two officials who were apparently talking about a cover-up a day or two after the incident. Valeroso did not identify the two people in the audio recording, adding that he will submit the recording to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. But Quezon said no one would know the nature of these supposed evidence until the hearing itself, but he announced that Aquino will confer the PNP Medal of Valor on Chief Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi and PO2 Romeo C. Cempron, both among the slain police commandos now known as the SAF 44. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senators wary over playing Mamasapano audio tapes
[Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the audio recording might be played during the hearing unless one or any of the parties in the recorded conversations invoke privacy and bar anybody from listening to it. “(It) can be played unless somebody comes out and questions the recording. I remember we discussed this during the ‘Hello Garci’ controversy when I was still a congressman,” Angara said in a radio interview.]

JANUARY 25 -Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that probed the shootout, said the panel would deal with the recordings if raised before the committee. Facebook/GracePoe
Some senators are wary of the audio recording that contains the alleged conversation between a ranking government official and a lawmaker on the Mamasapano incident. The recording is due to be presented by retired police Chief Superintendent Diosdado Valeroso when the Senate reopens its probe on the incident that led to the deaths of 44 police Special Action Force members (SAF 44) exactly a year ago today. Twenty three others – rebels as well as civilians – were also killed in the encounter. Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that probed the shootout, said the panel would deal with the recordings if raised before the committee. “The joint committees will take up the matter as a body if there is a motion by a member-senator to hear the Valeroso recording. Assuming the recording is established to be authentic, joint committees will have to discuss first the legality of airing and its admissibility,” Poe told The STAR. The Senate committees on public order; peace, unification and reconciliation; and finance would resume their inquiry on Wednesday after minority leader Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile vowed to present new pieces of evidence to prove that President Aquino allowed the slaughter of the SAF 44 in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and a private armed group. Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the audio recording might be played during the hearing unless one or any of the parties in the recorded conversations invoke privacy and bar anybody from listening to it. “(It) can be played unless somebody comes out and questions the recording. I remember we discussed this during the ‘Hello Garci’ controversy when I was still a congressman,” Angara said in a radio interview. Pimentel said that although there is no law barring the playing of the recording at the Senate, he wants to err on the side of caution. “When it comes to playing it, we can play it. But will we believe it? Number, one (it involves) a lawmaker (who) is a member of a collegial body. Whatever the lawmaker may say cannot bind the entire institution,” Pimentel added. “Let’s listen to it but we might be wasting our time.” In the name of justice, Pimentel said he would be liberal and lenient on the technicalities as he also consented to reopening the Mamasapano inquiry on Wednesday. Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, welcomed the reopening but cautioned lawmakers to make it factual and should not affect the Bangsamoro Basic Law being pushed by Aquino and the MILF. “If we are going to reopen because there are issues still to be addressed, all questions should focus there. I am hoping that it will be factual and it will help to [give the] big picture of what really happened,” Deles said. She added that the reinvestigation should put closure on questions that continue to linger and help people understand. Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the House is set to vote on the BBL on Wednesday. Justice for SAF 44 Valeroso, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982, said he is simply helping the SAF 44 and their families get justice by holding those behind the fiasco responsible. “My purpose is (to find out) the truth, accountability and justice. What really happened, before, during and after the Mamasapano encounter,” Valeroso told The STAR. “Nobody is behind (my decision to come out with this info). All I can say is this is between me and my Creator.” READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘Veto saved SSS’ - Social security agency faces potential collapse if pension hike was approved, says SSS President/Chief exec


JANUARY 16 -SSS president and CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr. President Aquino’s decision to veto the P2,000 increase in Social Security System (SSS) pension prevented the potential collapse of the pension fund. Emilio S. de Quiros Jr., SSS president and chief executive, stressed this yesterday, adding that the P2,000 pension increase would lead to a projected deficit of P26 billion for this year alone. “As the number of pensioners grows, the initial P56 billion in additional benefit outlay per year would increase, which in turn contributes to the rising annual deficit or net loss incurred by SSS,” De Quiros said. PHOTO INDIGNATION RALLY – A Social Security System (SSS) pensioner voices out his outrage over the decision of President Aquino to veto a bill increasing the SSS pension by P2,000 during a protest rally held in front of the Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola, Manila yesterday. (Federico Cruz) President Aquino defended his decision to veto the bill, warning of imminent bankruptcy of SSS if the pension hike is approved. He said proposed increase may benefit the 2.15-million SSS pensioners but will “negatively” impact the 31 million individual members in the long run. Aquino admitted that he could have tried to earn brownie points and pass the bill but as father of the nation, he must consider the long-term stability of the SSS. “Pero tama ba ‘yon na dadalhin ko ang taumbayan sa direksyon na magiging kapahamakan nila? [But is it right to bring our people to a direction that will put them at risk? ]” he added. SENIOR CITIZENS REACT However. Jorge Banal, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP) in an exclusive telephone interview with Manila Bulletin, said President Aquino should have come up with a compromise rather than vetoing the measure to increase SSS pension. “I understand the apprehension of the President, fearing bankruptcy of the SSS, but what is more important now is the present, kawawa naman ang mga tumatanggap ng P1,200. The future will take care of itself,” said Banal, who expressed sadness and disappointment over the President’s veto. Banal explained that some 2 million senior citizens are receiving P1,200 monthly pension, which is way below the poverty line and not even enough to sustain an elderly’s daily basic needs, not to mention maintenance medicines and others. He said the President should have made a compromise and not simply veto the bill, a measure thoroughly studied members of both houses of Congress to benefit many of the elderly who, while still young, had contributed in nation building but are now unemployed and unable to provide for themselves. READ MORE...

ALSO WORKERS PROTEST: SSS execs failed to deceive the public – KMU‏


JANUARY 21 -Media Release 21 Jan. 2016 -Joining a gathering and a protest of advocates of a P2,000 across-the-board increase in Social Security System pensions at the Quezon City Sports Club this morning, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that executives of the workers’ fund have failed to deceive the public into accepting current pension levels.
The labor group said the clamor for the pension hike continues to grow, as reflected in radio shows and in social media, and that more and more groups are expressing their eagerness to hold various activities to voice out the demand. KMU said that in their presscon last Monday, SSS executives merely rehashed Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s arguments, which have been refuted, and served up new lies which were have also been refuted. “The SSS executives failed to convince the public that the SSS cannot fund the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. They only reaped the public’s anger with their arrogance and thinly-veiled lies,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson. The labor leader said SSS commission representative for the general public Michael Alimurung’s claim that majority of the fund’s members are informal workers was refuted by data from the SSS which shows that more than 22 million out of its more than 30 million members are wage and salary workers. He also said that Filipinos immediately sensed that Alimurung, together with SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr., were lying when they claimed that not all SSS members are poor. “Last Monday’s press conference only highlighted just how palpak (inept) SSS executives really are. They were trying to come up with excuses to not raise the SSS pension and they failed miserably,” Soluta added. READ MORE...RELATED,Marcos calls for replacement of ‘incompetent’ SSS officials...and Drilon respects PNoy’s veto on SSS pension hike...

ALSO HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP PROTEST: Override Aquino’s veto on the SSS Pension Hike - Rally toward better days‏


JANUARY 22 -INDIGNATION RALLY – A Social Security System (SSS) pensioner voices out his outrage over the decision of President Aquino to veto a bill increasing the SSS pension by P2,000 during a protest rally held in front of the Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola, Manila yesterday. (Federico Cruz)
Senior citizens continue to reel in disbelief and express outrage at the Aquino administration’s veto of House Bill 5842 that would increase the monthly SSS pension disbursements for the elderly. In spinning the same underwhelming data points as was presented by naysayers from the Social Security System administration during deliberations of the bill, Aquino has sought to dash hopes for dignity of life for the elderly and tell the nation that he knows best, when it comes to the necessary suffering of senior citizens.
We are tremendously disheartened by Aquino’s choice to follow doomsday projections, rather than rally our nation toward better days. Something is terribly awry. A presidential veto of a legislative bill is part of the checks-and-balances of the branches of government to ensure that the welfare of the nation has not been overlooked or that legislators have acted hastily; in contrast, Aquino said nary a word of disagreement on the pension increase in the last four years, while the bill worked its way through both the Congress and the Senate. We have experienced Aquino’s poor leadership once again. The veto is likely the result of Aquino’s favor toward business interests, adhering to neo-liberal economics with unfettered profit margins for the wealthy while taxing the pants off of the poor and providing as few services as possible. Seniors are correct when they cite Aquino’s lack of compassion for the elderly that seems to impede him from acknowledging that the current SSS disbursements are paltry and insufficient. Sadly, even more detrimental to our nation’s advancement, Aquino lacks vision to see that collections can be raised, taxes can be adjusted, or allotments from the national budget can be allocated, such that the SSS system would neither collapse nor be undermined. We join the workers and senior citizen’s to reject Aquino’s veto: now is a time to rally the nation to move on in hope by pursuing an override. The SSS is capable of meeting the P2,000 per month increase that passed through both the Congress and the Senate with overwhelming support. First, the monthly collections of SSS should be prioritized as they currently are reported at a miserable 39% collection rate. Second, a realignment of priorities for taxes and collections can be considered: rather than collecting taxes and releasing them through patronage politic systems like the Conditional Cash Transfers (or similar Pork Barrel PDAF and DAP corruption machineries), increased collections of SSS, while decreasing or maintaining other legislated collections are in order. Third, a “spirit of service” in administration of the Social Security System is essential and would bring necessary policies to reduce the despicably high administration costs that translate into more than 10% of all collections going to salaries, incentive bonuses and expenses other than pension and service disbursements and investments. Fourth, SSS administrators should stop gambling away the fund as high-risk stock market losses. Finally, a national budget allocation can be considered as a stopgap measure while making the necessary adjustments to achieve a thriving SSS infrastructure that would carry on with this essential service to the Filipino citizenry. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Taxpayers to subsidize P20 B for AFP, PNP pension hike?


The Department of Budget and Management is now scrounging for fund sources in the 2016 national budget to finance a higher pension rate for retired soldiers and policemen. Philstar.com/File

MANILA, JANUARY 25, 2016 (PHILSTAR)  By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 22, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Unlike the vetoed P2,000 Social Security System (SSS) pension increase, for which President Aquino does not want to use public funds, taxpayers would be asked to subsidize a higher pension rate for retired soldiers and policemen.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is now scrounging for fund sources in the 2016 national budget to finance the hiked pension, which is part of the Senate version of the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 4 or the fourth multi-year government-wide salary increase program supposed to take effect last Jan. 1.

But government nurses and other health workers, along with state science and technology employees, are not happy with this development as they criticized the proposed repeal of the Magna Carta for Health Workers and the Magna Carta for Science and Technology Workers.

The health group also scheduled a national protest on Jan. 28.

Robert Mendoza, Alliance of Health Workers president, explained that an SSL approval would repeal the Magna Carta and eventually give workers lower income.

“While SSL passage provides for a P2,000 increase in the monthly pay of health workers, it would also mean losing P10,000 to P15,000 in benefits that are provided under the Magna Carta,” he explained.

Angelo Palmones, president of Alyansa ng mga Grupong Haligi ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Mamamayan, gave the same argument, stressing that a repeal shows how the government fails to appreciate science and technology workers and to encourage them to stay and serve the country.

He pointed out that science and technology workers fought hard for the Magna Carta, which was enacted in 1997 but funded only in 2012. Before that, the benefits given them were funded through savings the department made.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are determined to pass the proposed SSL 4 before the Feb. 6 adjournment for the election campaign, said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

SSL 4 contains the planned four-year salary increases for the 1.5 million government personnel, although the House and Senate versions still need to be reconciled.

READ MORE...

The House version does not provide for an increase in the pension rates of military and police retirees while the Senate version has it indexed in the salary increases for active members.

Belmonte said he would have preferred that the Senate tackled its indexation proposal in another bill, since funding for the House version has already been included in the 2016 budget.

Reconciling the two versions would mean convening a conference committee to look again into the salary increase law.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House appropriations committee, said an initial estimate of P20 billion is needed to increase the military and police pensions.

The amount, he said, was not included in the 2016 national budget and would force the DBM to look for fund sources. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Rainier Allan Ronda


TRIBUNE

Ex-PNP brass claims owning Mamasapano tapes vs Noy Written by Tribune Wires Sunday, 24 January 2016 00:00


Supt. Diosdado Valeroso Photo from retired Chief Supt. Diosdado Valeroso Facebook account

Reminiscent of the explosive Hello Garci tapes that implicated former President Gloria Arroyo to the massive and orchestrated cheating in the 2004 elections and which nearly brought down her administration, a retired Philippine National Police (PNP) general said an audio recording in his possession will prove a conspiracy in covering up President Aquino’s direct hand in the Mamasapano debacle.

Retired Chief Insp. Diosdado Valeroso said he has obtained a recording that lasts for 15 to 20 minutes and which contained a conversation that took place exactly two days after the January 25 incident that resulted in the death of 44 Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.

Valeroso who attended a forum yesterday was elusive on the content of the alleged recording but he said it will be passed on to the Senate on January 27 when the probe on the tragic incident is reopened.

Valeroso, without giving details, also described the subject of the conversation as an attempt to insulate the peace agreement between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) from the incident.

“What is most glaring in the said evidence is that there is an effort to cover up guilt and protect (somebody),” Valeroso said.
The former official of the PNP National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said the recording was between a high-ranking government official and a legislator.

During the conversation, one of the unnamed individuals told the other to ignore what happened in Mamasapano to prevent delaying the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The conversation in gist was between two persons discussing the possibility of playing down the incident so as not to affect the peace agreement with the MILF,” he said.

He said he obtained the audio recording through email and was sent by a credible source.

Blood is in the hands of President Aquino as he is the most accountable in the infamous Mamasapano massacre, legislators belonging to the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives also declared yesterday.



Ahead of the reopening of the Senate hearing on the botched Oplan Exodus, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said there’s nobody else to blame for the massacre but the commander in chief, Aquino.

“Without any hesitation, Noynoy Aquino is accountable for he did not do anything to save the SAF despite the fact that he has the direct access and information of the operation,” Atienza said yesterday in a media forum. “Noynoy allowed them to get killed”, he added.

“For doing nothing, Aquino allowed the slaughter of the SAF 44,” he added.

READ MORE...

Atienza also asserted that the President is a “liar” who “went on maximizing to divert facts from stories just to avoid the pointing finger of guilt to him”.

“From misencounter to encounter then one story to another.. The administration was acting whimsically with their series of lies,” he added.

Apart from Aquino, Atienza also said that Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer and former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas should also be charged with liability in the said operation.

Atienza said that he isn’t buying the excuse of Roxas that he was “taken out of the loop” in the police mission that targeted Malaysian terrorist Marwan and was by passed by the President who was communicating instead to his close friend, then suspended former PNP chief Director Gen. Alan Purisima.

“Roxas, do not know anything prior to the operation? Oh my God, what a lame and stupid excuse. He was DILG secretary, the PNP was under him, don’t tell me that he did not know anything, it is very impossible. Major Police operations pass through him,” Atienza said.

“If it was true that his authority was bypassed, it should’ve been the perfect time for him to resign and tell the President ‘I quit’,” he added.

Also expected to be present on the Senate hearing set on January 27, are Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Communications Secretary Sonny Colima and LP senatorial aspirant and former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Delayed SAF probe results

Agreeing with Rep. Atienza, Abakada Partylist Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz said that they lament the fact that their fellow legislators belonging to the House Committee on Public Order and Security and the Special Committee on National Unity and Reconciliation are “delaying the results of their supposed investigations” which he cites as a grave injustice to the public.

Dela Cruz also suspects that their fellow legislators who participated in investigations are delaying the findings for perhaps political reasons.

“Now that there seems to be a cover up, we of the independent minority bloc in Congress cannot tolerate this baloney. (Rep. Atienza’s) exposé is the main point of the alternative investigation report we prepared,” dela Cruz said.

Dela Cruz also said he does not fully subscribe with finality to the Board of Inquiry (BoI) report prepared by former PNP Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) chief Ret. Gen. Romeo Maganto and the haphazard Senate report by the Committee on Peace and Order chair and presidential wannabe Sent. Grace Poe which accordingly absolves Aquino.

“A lot of questions are left unasked. Nobody went deeply to President Aquino’s role and the American intervention as well.

For all we know, the report’s done for 6 months and maybe only Poe knows the big deal,” he added.

The fallen SAF 44 were killed on their mission of arresting wanted terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in who was situated in the insurgent Moros’ territory in Tukanalipao, Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

In an apparent crisis management effort, the Palace said Aquino has authorized the posthumous conferment of Medal of Valor to two SAF commandos who died during the Mamasapano mission, which will be commemorated on Monday.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manolo Quezon III confirmed that the President has already authorized the grant of the awards.

“This is the awarding ceremony that will take place, I believe, in Camp Crame. The President authorized the award and among the awards that will be conferred will be the PNP Medal of Valor,” Quezon said.

Quezon added that aside from the medal awarding, which will be given to two individuals, there will also be the Medalya ng Kabahayanihan or the PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal to be awarded to other members of the SAF 44.

SAF members Senior Inspector Gednat Tabdi and Police Officer 2 Romeo Cempron will receive the Medal of Valor awards on Monday during the PNP’s commemoration of the first anniversary of the Mamasapano incident.

The 44 SAF members were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Jan. 25, 2015 in a mission to neutralize Indonesian bomb maker Zulkifli Binhir alias Marwan and Filipino terrorist Abdul Basit Usman.

The SAF members killed the Indonesian terrorist, but failed to arrest Usman. Usman was later killed in a clash with authorities.

The police commandos were leaving the site when they encountered members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters resulting in the deaths of its 44 members.
By Ted Tuvera

---------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Will PNoy respond to Mamasapano probe? Poe says Aquino can’t be compelled to attend Senate inquiry by Genalyn Kabiling and Hannah Torregoza January 23, 2016 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share7

Malacañang remains mum whether President Aquino will issue a sworn affidavit on his knowledge about the bungled police operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25, 2015 that left 44 police commandos dead.

But what is certain, according Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., is that all government officials invited will attend the reopening of the Mamasapano probe on January 27.

“We have already responded to the Senate’s invitation and will participate appropriately in their hearing next week,” Coloma said when asked if the President will still issue his own affidavit.

Sen. Grace Poe had earlier said President Aquino cannot be compelled to appear before the Senate inquiry into the Mamasapano incident since he enjoys immunity. She reiterated this yesterday.

“Ang Pangulo ay mayroong immunity. Hindi naman natin siya pwedeng pilitin na dumalo sa ganitong pagdinig (The President has immunity. We cannot force him to appear in the hearing),” Poe said.

The President, however, may issue an affidavit if he wants to, according to Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Order, which is conducting an inquiry into the bloody operation.

“Siguro kung magkakaroon ng affidavit ang ating Pangulo na sinumpaan din, pwedeng gamitin ito na basehan, (Maybe if the President submits a sworn affidavit, we can use that as basis),” she said.

In a previous Senate inquiry, the President authorized the release of a transcript of his text messages to former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima on the day of the operation intended to neutralize foreign terror suspects.

Coloma said the government will heed the Senate invitation and respond to pertinent questions about the Mamasapano operation “in the interest of transparency and public accountability.”

He said the government has always been open and forthright in addressing all concerns about the Mamasapano incident.

The reopening of the Mamasapano probe was in response to Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile’s request.

Poe called on all invited resources persons to participate in the Senate probe to put to rest, once and for all, all issues surrounding the ill-fated operation.

“Alam naman natin na matagal na itong sugat na ito na napakabagal din maghilom. Ang paglalahad ng kanilang nalalaman ay isang proseso para pagalingin na rin natin lahat ng mga hinanaing at sakit natin (We all know this is an old wound that has yet to heal. Knowing the truth is just one of the processes we can do to heal those pain and wounds,” she said.

“The sooner the Mamasapano investigation is over, the sooner everyone can move on,” she said.

Her committee has invited 24 resource persons, most of them officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Among those invited were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former Armed Forces chief Gregorio Catapang, former Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima, and former PNP Special Action Force chief Getulio Napeñas.

Poe cautioned returning resource persons that they could be held liable if the Senate finds they have withheld information that they already had during the series of hearings and executive sessions last year.

“The objective of this hearing is to ascertain what really happened during those times. They should be able to voluntarily give any information that they know,” Poe said.


MANILA STANDARD

Palace rules out PNoy testimony; Noy will not submit affidavit to reopen Senate SAF 44 probe posted January 24, 2016 at 12:01 am by Maricel Cruz


MANUEL QUEZON III

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will no longer submit an affidavit to the Senate committee which will reopen its investigation into the Mamasapano incident that resulted in the 67 people, including 44 police commandos, killed on Jan. 27, 2015.

“I don’t see why there would be a reason for the President to submit an affidavit,” Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said in an interview with state-run radio dzRB on Saturday.

“Let us not forget that the Senate has already conducted its hearing and that it has concluded its probe. It was a very extensive hearing,” Quezon said of the probe to be conducted by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Senator Grace Poe.

Poe reopened the probe at the behest of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile who claimed he had evidence to prove that Aquino did nothing to stop the clash between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force.

The commandos were killed in the course of “Oplan Exodus,” a mission to arrest Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Bin Hir, who was hiding with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.


VALEROSO

KEY EVIDENCE. Former police general Diosdado Valeroso explains to journalists how he came to possess an audio recording between unidentified police officials who were apparently talking about a cover-up of the Mamasapano massacre. JANSEN ROMERO
Marwan was killed in the operation but the operation turned into a disaster when the SAF commandos ran into fighters of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, triggering a day-long series of clashes.

Aside from the slain commandos, 17 MILF fighters and three civilians were also killed and the Mindanao peace process almost scuttled.

Retired police general Diosdado Valeroso, a former Special Action Force official, also claimed on Saturday he had “critical” proof of an attempted cover-up of the Mamasapano encounter.

Valeroso, a former leader of the Young Officers Union who is now running the Senate, said he is in possession of an audio recording between two officials who were apparently talking about a cover-up a day or two after the incident.

Valeroso did not identify the two people in the audio recording, adding that he will submit the recording to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

But Quezon said no one would know the nature of these supposed evidence until the hearing itself, but he announced that Aquino will confer the PNP Medal of Valor on Chief Insp. Gednat G. Tabdi and PO2 Romeo C. Cempron, both among the slain police commandos now known as the SAF 44.

READ MORE...

“This is the awarding ceremony that will take place, I believe, in Camp Crame. The President authorized the award and among the awards that will be conferred is the PNP Medal of Valor,” Quezon said.

Tabdi was the head of the SAF 84th Company, which led the “main effort” in the operation to capture international terrorist Zulkifi Bin Hir alias “Marwan,” while Cempron was the lead gunner of the 55th company.

Quezon said only two SAF members would receive the Medal of Valor, as other 42 other slain troopers would receive the Distinguished Conduct Medal as previously recommended by the National Police Commission.

“My understanding is that besides the awarding of the PNP Medal of Valor, which will be [given] to two individuals, there will also be the Medalya ng Kabayanihan or the PNP Distinguished Conduct Medal, which will be awarded to the SAF 44,” Quezon said.

Quezon announced the awarding of the medals after public criticism of Aquino’s behavior in extending military honors to the slain commandos and the extension of benefits to their families.

As late as Jan. 13, the National Police Commission said it is was still awaiting Aquino approval of the recommended posthumous awards for the slain policemen, leading security veterans to say the awards could have been given upon their burial if Aquino had wanted to.

Qualified children of the Medal of Valor and Distinguished Conduct Medal awardees can avail of scholarships under the Reward Education Assistance Program of the PNP.

Medal of Valor awardees are also entitled to a monthly pension of P20,000 a month which “shall accrue in equal shares and with the right of accretion to the surviving spouse until she remarries and to the legitimate, adopted or illegitimate children until they reach the age of 18 or until they marry, whichever comes earlier.”


Senators wary over playing Mamasapano audio tapes By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 25, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that probed the shootout, said the panel would deal with the recordings if raised before the committee. Facebook/GracePoe

MANILA, Philippines - Some senators are wary of the audio recording that contains the alleged conversation between a ranking government official and a lawmaker on the Mamasapano incident.

The recording is due to be presented by retired police Chief Superintendent Diosdado Valeroso when the Senate reopens its probe on the incident that led to the deaths of 44 police Special Action Force members (SAF 44) exactly a year ago today. Twenty three others – rebels as well as civilians – were also killed in the encounter.

Sen. Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs that probed the shootout, said the panel would deal with the recordings if raised before the committee.

“The joint committees will take up the matter as a body if there is a motion by a member-senator to hear the Valeroso recording. Assuming the recording is established to be authentic, joint committees will have to discuss first the legality of airing and its admissibility,” Poe told The STAR.

The Senate committees on public order; peace, unification and reconciliation; and finance would resume their inquiry on Wednesday after minority leader Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile vowed to present new pieces of evidence to prove that President Aquino allowed the slaughter of the SAF 44 in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and a private armed group.

Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the audio recording might be played during the hearing unless one or any of the parties in the recorded conversations invoke privacy and bar anybody from listening to it.

“(It) can be played unless somebody comes out and questions the recording. I remember we discussed this during the ‘Hello Garci’ controversy when I was still a congressman,” Angara said in a radio interview.

Pimentel said that although there is no law barring the playing of the recording at the Senate, he wants to err on the side of caution.

“When it comes to playing it, we can play it. But will we believe it? Number, one (it involves) a lawmaker (who) is a member of a collegial body. Whatever the lawmaker may say cannot bind the entire institution,” Pimentel added. “Let’s listen to it but we might be wasting our time.”

In the name of justice, Pimentel said he would be liberal and lenient on the technicalities as he also consented to reopening the Mamasapano inquiry on Wednesday.

Teresita Deles, presidential adviser on the peace process, welcomed the reopening but cautioned lawmakers to make it factual and should not affect the Bangsamoro Basic Law being pushed by Aquino and the MILF.

“If we are going to reopen because there are issues still to be addressed, all questions should focus there. I am hoping that it will be factual and it will help to [give the] big picture of what really happened,” Deles said.

She added that the reinvestigation should put closure on questions that continue to linger and help people understand.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the House is set to vote on the BBL on Wednesday.

Justice for SAF 44 Valeroso, who graduated from the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1982, said he is simply helping the SAF 44 and their families get justice by holding those behind the fiasco responsible.

“My purpose is (to find out) the truth, accountability and justice. What really happened, before, during and after the Mamasapano encounter,” Valeroso told The STAR. “Nobody is behind (my decision to come out with this info). All I can say is this is between me and my Creator.”

READ MORE...

He refused to disclose who the ranking government officer and lawmaker in the recording, which lasted for about 15 minutes, were and begged off from revealing its contents as he preferred to submit the evidence without adding or deducting anything from it.

Valeroso hinted though that the conversation took place “a day or two” after the bloody incident and that the two persons in the recording were discussing an attempt to cover up the Mamasapano incident.

‘Hello Garci’ scandal Angara noted that the Mamasapano “audio recording” is reminiscent of the “Hello Garci” scandal during the Arroyo administration.

He said there is a prohibition under the Anti-Wiretapping Law that may prevent the Senate from playing the recording when one of those involved will come out to authenticate the recording and invoke the right to privacy.

The lawmaker though recognized the power of social media, where audio recordings or video footage may become viral even without the consent of those in them.

He also did not discount the possibility that the recording, just like in the Hello Garci scandal where then president Gloria Arroyo talked with former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano about manipulating the 2004 polls, may be leaked to the public. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Cecille Suerte Felipe


MANILA BULLETIN

‘Veto saved SSS’ Social security agency faces potential collapse if pension hike was approved January 16, 2016 Share380 Tweet0 Share1 Email2 Share518 By Chino S. Leyco, Genalyn D. Kabiling, and Liza T. Agoot


SSS president and CEO Emilio de Quiros Jr.

President Aquino’s decision to veto the P2,000 increase in Social Security System (SSS) pension prevented the potential collapse of the pension fund.

Emilio S. de Quiros Jr., SSS president and chief executive, stressed this yesterday, adding that the P2,000 pension increase would lead to a projected deficit of P26 billion for this year alone.

“As the number of pensioners grows, the initial P56 billion in additional benefit outlay per year would increase, which in turn contributes to the rising annual deficit or net loss incurred by SSS,” De Quiros said.


INDIGNATION RALLY – A Social Security System (SSS) pensioner voices out his outrage over the decision of President Aquino to veto a bill increasing the SSS pension by P2,000 during a protest rally held in front of the Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola, Manila yesterday. (Federico Cruz)

President Aquino defended his decision to veto the bill, warning of imminent bankruptcy of SSS if the pension hike is approved. He said proposed increase may benefit the 2.15-million SSS pensioners but will “negatively” impact the 31 million individual members in the long run.

Aquino admitted that he could have tried to earn brownie points and pass the bill but as father of the nation, he must consider the long-term stability of the SSS.

“Pero tama ba ‘yon na dadalhin ko ang taumbayan sa direksyon na magiging kapahamakan nila? [But is it right to bring our people to a direction that will put them at risk? ]” he added.

SENIOR CITIZENS REACT

However. Jorge Banal, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP) in an exclusive telephone interview with Manila Bulletin, said President Aquino should have come up with a compromise rather than vetoing the measure to increase SSS pension.

“I understand the apprehension of the President, fearing bankruptcy of the SSS, but what is more important now is the present, kawawa naman ang mga tumatanggap ng P1,200. The future will take care of itself,” said Banal, who expressed sadness and disappointment over the President’s veto.

Banal explained that some 2 million senior citizens are receiving P1,200 monthly pension, which is way below the poverty line and not even enough to sustain an elderly’s daily basic needs, not to mention maintenance medicines and others.

He said the President should have made a compromise and not simply veto the bill, a measure thoroughly studied members of both houses of Congress to benefit many of the elderly who, while still young, had contributed in nation building but are now unemployed and unable to provide for themselves.

READ MORE...

“Now is the proper time to act and save the poor senior citizens. Maraming namamatay dahil hindi nila kaya bumili ng pangangailangan nila, and the government should do something to protect these people,” said Banal, father of Quezon City Rep. Jorge “Bolet” Banal Jr., a staunch supporter of President Aquino.

Banal recalled that in 2014, President Aquino mentioned in his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) that he would increase the senior citizens’ pension to a minimum of P5,000, which was not only forgotten, but deleted after turning down the proposed P2,000 increase in SSS pension.

“A P1,000 (increase) would have been better than simply vetoing it,” Banal added.

Betty Lourdes Tabanda, Baguio City Council Committee on Social Services, Women, and Children chairman, in a Facebook post, said “how can a retiree with a pension of P1,200 a month live a decent life? With this veto, then all retirees receiving less than P2,000 a month pension should be given the social pension which should be increased by P500 or the national government should build more homes for the elderly.”

Manong Rudy, 69, of Baguio City, who is receiving P400 monthly pension, was unable to react. “Diak ammu ibagak (I don’t know what to say). Umas-asa ak nga manayunan met iti pension nga ma-al-alak kada bulan tapnu adda kuma met paggatang ko iti agas ko (I was hoping that my pension will increase so that I would have money to buy my medicines).”

SSS FUNDS AT RISK

SSS officials said the pension funds are currently projected to last until 2042, but it would be wiped out by 2029 if the pension hike was approved by Aquino.

However, given the low market sentiment and the need for SSS to divest P47 billion to P51 billion in financial assets to fund the increase in pension benefit, the fund life would be further reduced to 2027.

“The P2,000 increase and resulting shorter fund life will greatly affect our 33 million members and pensioners as well as their dependent spouses, minor children and other beneficiaries who are also mandated to receive their own share of SSS benefits,” De Quiros said.

In terms of absolute value, the state-run agency provides members a generous return of P6 to P15 in benefits for every peso they contribute to the SSS.

“SSS financial gains since 2010 to further improve the stability of the fund would be negated if the P2,000 pension increase was approved. It would be shortened to an alarming 11-year period from now,” De Quiros said.

According to SSS, financial losses would snowball in the next administration if the P2,000 pension increase was implemented by Aquino.

Unpopular as the veto decision may be, particularly for the present 2.15 million pensioners, Social Security Commission Representative for the General Public Michael Victor N. Alimurung, said “it was the right thing to do.”

“It shows that the President is principled enough to withstand pressure, by refusing to support a bill that he knows will lead to the financial ruin of the SSS. With the Malacañang decision, we continue to further strengthen the SSS to become sustainable and viable,” Alimurung said.

He noted that it is risky to compel SSS to implement a drastic pension increase as proposed by a bill silent on any source of funding, and just pin hopes on the next administration to avert the depletion of funds.

To implement the P2,000 pension increase and still maintain the present fund life of 26 years, members contribution rate needed to be increased from the present 11 percent to 15.8 percent, SSS said.

In the absence of a contribution rate increase, SSS pointed the government would have to provide a minimum annual subsidy of P130 billion per year starting 2030, after the fund’s investment reserve fund has been fully exhausted.

GOV’T TAKES CARE OF FUNDS

But Banal said the SSS law, Republic Act 8282, provides that the State shall take care of the fund.

“Marami pang magagawa sa mga sumusunod na araw (A lot of things can be done in the days ahead). The government can give subsidy. They can improve their collection which at present is poor,” he said.

When the SSS law was passed, a safeguard was put in place by the legislators, by coming up with the provision mandating the government to take care of the fund, by subsidizing it to prevent it from being bankrupt.

De Quiros said “the SSS will continue with its mission to implement measures that would truly redound to the financial stability of the institution, extend meaningful benefits, and maintain the trust and confidence of the present and future stakeholders.”

Aquino said Congress could overturn the veto on the proposed pension hike by a two-thirds vote but reminded them about the danger of weakening the fiscal health of SSS.

He said SSS would need P56 billion a year to sustain the proposed 2,000 pension increase per retiree. But with an annual income of P30 billion to P40 billion, Aquino cautioned that the payment for pensioners result to a deficit of P16 billion – P26 billion annually. The funds of the SSS would decrease and eventually run out in a few years.

Nonetheless, the President has not closed his doors on other possible benefits for the SSS members.

He admitted that the government is studying other options, including a P500- pension increase, to advance the welfare of SSS members without hurting the financial viability of the SSS.

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano is taking up the challenge of trying to override the presidential veto.

Cayetano, an independent vice presidential candidate, said he would lead the charge in mobilizing the legislature to override the presidential veto when Congress resumes regular session on Monday.

The override, Cayetano said, would end the legacy of the Executive branch of vetoing important measures. (With a report from Mario B. Casayuran)


@ PHNO Outlook inbox
FROM KMU EMAIL Media Release 21 Jan. 2016

WORKERS PROTEST: SSS execs failed to deceive the public – KMU‏

Joining a gathering and a protest of advocates of a P2,000 across-the-board increase in Social Security System pensions at the Quezon City Sports Club this morning, national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said that executives of the workers’ fund have failed to deceive the public into accepting current pension levels.

The labor group said the clamor for the pension hike continues to grow, as reflected in radio shows and in social media, and that more and more groups are expressing their eagerness to hold various activities to voice out the demand.

KMU said that in their presscon last Monday, SSS executives merely rehashed Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s arguments, which have been refuted, and served up new lies which were have also been refuted.

“The SSS executives failed to convince the public that the SSS cannot fund the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. They only reaped the public’s anger with their arrogance and thinly-veiled lies,” said Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson.

The labor leader said SSS commission representative for the general public Michael Alimurung’s claim that majority of the fund’s members are informal workers was refuted by data from the SSS which shows that more than 22 million out of its more than 30 million members are wage and salary workers.

He also said that Filipinos immediately sensed that Alimurung, together with SSS president and chief executive officer Emilio de Quiros Jr., were lying when they claimed that not all SSS members are poor.

“Last Monday’s press conference only highlighted just how palpak (inept) SSS executives really are. They were trying to come up with excuses to not raise the SSS pension and they failed miserably,” Soluta added.

READ MORE...

KMU has repeatedly claimed that SSS has the funds for the increase, that it can still undertake measures to further increase the funds without increasing members’ premium contributions, and that the government can fund the pension hike in the future should SSS funds won’t suffice.

“There really is no excuse for not implementing the P2,000 across-the-board pension hike. Public anger will not subside until the Aquino government implements the said pension hike immediately,” Soluta stated.

KMU called on SSS pensioners, senior citizens, their families, workers and all Filipinos to join upcoming protests at the Batasang Pambansa, the SSS main office in East Avenue, Senate and Luneta.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU vice-chairperson, 0928-7215313

© 2016 Microsoft Terms Privacy & cookies Developers Bell Mail Help © Bell Canada 2013 English (United States)


TRIBUNE

Marcos calls for replacement of ‘incompetent’ SSS officials Written by Angie M. Rosales Friday, 22 January 2016 00:00


SEN. MARCOS

Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. yesterday came to the defend his colleague, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, amid charges of politicking for coming up with a resolution expressing the sense of the upper chamber in the vetoed bill increasing the pension of Social Security System (SSS) members

Marcos ditched Senate President Franklin Drilon’s claims that it’s aimed at “isolating” President Aquino.

“I disagree. It is an attempt to help people,” the senator said, adding that charges against the administration on being indifferent to the needs of the people could tossed back to the Executive when it first turned down calls for an income tax cuts and now on the proposed P2,000 across-the-board increase in pension of retired SSS members.

“This is constant ongoing between the citizens-taxpayers and the government. The government always wants taxpayers to pay more, taxpayers want to pay less.

“This is a ongoing back and forth between the two sectors,” Marcos said at a news forum at the Senate.

While he would not directly cast blame on Aquino, the senator refused to be swayed by the claims made by SSS executives on their claims that it will shorten the life span of the agency, saying that the low collection rate and bad investment placements are indicative of mismanagement.

“I don’t think they’re doing a good job. I think that’s what I am saying and I’m saying we must replace them with people who are better at managing the fund,” Marcos said.

“We have to blame them for being incompetent and for not doing their job properly. But of course some responsibility lies with the President, why did you pick people who cannot seem to do the job?” he said.

He said new SSS fund managers should be chosen not on the basis of political affiliation, but solely on competence.

Marcos also bared that he has signed a proposed Senate resolution, expressing the sense of the Upper Chamber that the P2,000 increase in the pension of SSS retirees should be given and that the President’s veto of the bill granting such pension hike is unfortunate.

Marcos also brushed aside allegations that lawmakers pushing for the SSS pension hike are using the issue to score political points, particularly because of the coming elections this year.

In the meantime, Marcos believes it is best for the Executive and the Legislative to get together and try to forge a win-win solution for SSS members, particularly those who rely mostly on their pension for their daily expenses.

----------------------------------

RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Drilon respects PNoy’s veto on SSS pension hike By Rosette Adel (philstar.com) | Updated January 14, 2016 - 4:15pm 5 131 googleplus0 0


Although his opinion on the proposed Social Security System pension hike bill differs from President Benigno Aquino III's, he still respect the president's decision to veto the bill. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando,file

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Franklin Drilon on Thursday said he respects the decision of President Benigno Aquino III who earlier vetoed the proposed bill providing an additional P2,000 to the monthly pension of Social Security System (SSS) retirees.

”It is within his prerogative as president to do so and this is part of the system of check and balance that is a critical component of our democracy,” Drilon said in a press statement.

“If the president believed the enactment of the House Bill 5842 would, in the long run, have a negative impact on the SSS fund life then we fully respect his judgment,” he added.

Despite their differences regarding the SSS pension hike bill, Drilon expressed confidence in Aquino’s decision for the betterment and needs of the SSS and its members.

”We may have a different opinion with the President on this particular matter, but I am confident that the executive branch is looking into other alternatives that will help the pensioners, without compromising the viability of the SSS as an institution tasked by the State to establish, develop, promote and perfect a sound and viable tax-exempt social security system suitable to the needs of the people,” Drilon said.

Drilon said the veto would not hamper the Senate agenda and maintained that the Senate will continue to legislate measures to uplift the lives and welfare of the people.

”The Senate will not be hindered by this veto. We will look at it again and we will work hard to perfect the bill and finally give the people what it so deserve,” the Senate leader said.

The Senate president noted that the SSS pension hike bill was the first measure rejected and unsigned by Aquino insofar as the 16th Congress is concerned.

”The president and the Congress – both the Senate and the House of Representatives – have a harmonious and productive working relationship that resulted in the passage of numerous laws that help our people, including the mandatory PhilHealth coverage for all senior citizens and the law that raises the tax exemption ceiling on the 13th month pay, among others,” Drilon said.

Aquino vetoed the proposed SSS pension hike bill citing “dire financial consequences” which include a possible substantial negative income for SSS.

Last November 9, the Senate adopted HB 5482 without amendments after its passage in the House of Representatives on June 9, 2015.


@ PHNO OUTLOOK INBOX
FROM PCPR Media 6:10 AM Press Statement January 22, 2016

Override Aquino’s veto on the SSS Pension Hike: Rally toward better days‏


INDIGNATION RALLY – A Social Security System (SSS) pensioner voices out his outrage over the decision of President Aquino to veto a bill increasing the SSS pension by P2,000 during a protest rally held in front of the Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola, Manila yesterday. (Federico Cruz)

Senior citizens continue to reel in disbelief and express outrage at the Aquino administration’s veto of House Bill 5842 that would increase the monthly SSS pension disbursements for the elderly. In spinning the same underwhelming data points as was presented by naysayers from the Social Security System administration during deliberations of the bill, Aquino has sought to dash hopes for dignity of life for the elderly and tell the nation that he knows best, when it comes to the necessary suffering of senior citizens.

We are tremendously disheartened by Aquino’s choice to follow doomsday projections, rather than rally our nation toward better days. Something is terribly awry.

A presidential veto of a legislative bill is part of the checks-and-balances of the branches of government to ensure that the welfare of the nation has not been overlooked or that legislators have acted hastily; in contrast, Aquino said nary a word of disagreement on the pension increase in the last four years, while the bill worked its way through both the Congress and the Senate. We have experienced Aquino’s poor leadership once again.

The veto is likely the result of Aquino’s favor toward business interests, adhering to neo-liberal economics with unfettered profit margins for the wealthy while taxing the pants off of the poor and providing as few services as possible. Seniors are correct when they cite Aquino’s lack of compassion for the elderly that seems to impede him from acknowledging that the current SSS disbursements are paltry and insufficient.

Sadly, even more detrimental to our nation’s advancement, Aquino lacks vision to see that collections can be raised, taxes can be adjusted, or allotments from the national budget can be allocated, such that the SSS system would neither collapse nor be undermined.

We join the workers and senior citizen’s to reject Aquino’s veto: now is a time to rally the nation to move on in hope by pursuing an override.

The SSS is capable of meeting the P2,000 per month increase that passed through both the Congress and the Senate with overwhelming support.

First, the monthly collections of SSS should be prioritized as they currently are reported at a miserable 39% collection rate.

Second, a realignment of priorities for taxes and collections can be considered: rather than collecting taxes and releasing them through patronage politic systems like the Conditional Cash Transfers (or similar Pork Barrel PDAF and DAP corruption machineries), increased collections of SSS, while decreasing or maintaining other legislated collections are in order.

Third, a “spirit of service” in administration of the Social Security System is essential and would bring necessary policies to reduce the despicably high administration costs that translate into more than 10% of all collections going to salaries, incentive bonuses and expenses other than pension and service disbursements and investments.

Fourth, SSS administrators should stop gambling away the fund as high-risk stock market losses. Finally, a national budget allocation can be considered as a stopgap measure while making the necessary adjustments to achieve a thriving SSS infrastructure that would carry on with this essential service to the Filipino citizenry.

READ MORE...

We must awaken our dreams and envision the road to a society where the elderly receive better care; the Social Security System should indeed provide security for those for whom it was designed and secure them from forced mendicancy.

The current paltry pensions rob our seniors of their dignity and render them without options other than to become a burden on their family or struggle to continue to work long past their physical capability.

This is in glaring violation of the very principles for which the SSS was created. For many, the pittance that they receive does not even cover their medication expenses.

The SSS pension increase is not simply a matter of business feasibility or economic projection; an increase in the monthly SSS pension is a decision to “do right” by our elders, who have served our nation well and faithfully remitted their SSS payments for decades.

Church leaders join the rally cry for dignity of life in the passage of HB5842 that increases Social Security pensions.

We urge Congress and the Senate to press on and pass the bill, for it is a correct action that can unite our nation for our common good and progress as a society.

We must prioritize the welfare of the elderly. We must have vision, believing that a better life is possible, and dare to make it a reality. ###

Reference: Nardy Sabino, General Secretary

09292269708

© 2016 Microsoft Terms Privacy & cookies Developers Bell Mail Help © Bell Canada 2013 English (United States)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

© Copyright, 2016 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved


PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE