Watching gestures and facial expressions

At the grass roots level, only very few people are interested to watch this yet another senate hearing on VP Binay's corruption allegations because they are so tired of it because obviously it is only meant as "in aid of election," rather than in aid of legislation. Those who have afforded to waste their time on this yet another hearing are monitoring it on their TV sets in muted mode.

It's fun watching gestures and facial expressions! :-) 

Public investigations, hearings, probes, etc. are only credible and truthful when they are done in good faith and with honest-to-goodness intentions and not tainted with hidden agenda or personal motives -- particularly ugly are those hidden political motives.


Officials awarded selves fat bonuses; pensioners given no pension increase

Fat bonuses of SSS execs untouched
By: Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12:31 AM January 25th, 2016

Fat bonuses enjoyed by top Social Security System (SSS) officials since 2013 have remained untouched despite the furor over the recent veto by President Aquino of a proposed law granting SSS members a relatively modest P2,000 increase in their monthly pensions.

The backlash against the veto intensified as SSS officials clung tenaciously to their perks amid charges that the government was mismanaging the pension fund and using it to allow cronies and political allies to pillage the fund.

Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president and CEO, inflamed the public after he confirmed that seven other members of the SSS board received at least P1 million each as bonuses for the “good performance” of the fund.

However, he quickly qualified his affirmation, saying that bonuses amounting to P276 million were distributed to other SSS employees to compensate for the mandatory increase in contributions in January, 2013 on grounds that the SSS won’t have enough funds to cover retirement and their benefits beyond 2039.

According to De Quiros, the bonuses—both the estimated P10 million for eight board members and the P276 million for its employees—were given in accordance with the “performance-based” system set by the Governance Commission for Government-owned and-controlled corporations (GCG).


Inquirer Research reported that the grant of generous bonuses to SSS executives was condemned by the public, as an increase in SSS membership contribution loomed and concerns were raised by the Commission on Audit over the slow processing of payments of death, disability and retirement claims of SSS members.

Under the system of incentives, the bonuses were given in accordance with the incentives set up by the GCG, the presidential body tasked with overseeing the pay and perks of state corporations.

In justifying the fabulous bonuses the SSS board awarded to its members, De Quiros claimed that the board was operating in accordance with the norms observed by government corporations.

Executives of 20 GOCCs were granted bonuses for hitting at least 90 percent of their income target in 2012, according to the GCG spokesperson.


The GCG was established by a law signed by Mr. Aquino in 2011, accompanied by a blaze of sanctimonious declarations, such as “a stop to the multimillion-peso bonuses and extravagant benefits top executives and board members of state corporations give members.”

The law came almost after the Aquino administration uncovered the big bonuses and other extravagant benefits executives and board members of state firms had been giving themselves.

It is ironical that by 2015, his sermons were coming home to roost as his top executives at the SSS found themselves under fire for their self-awarded extravagant bonuses and perks.


Since the storm blew over the bonuses, we have been deluded by convoluted explanations based on actuarial data, the financial state of the SSS and pension fund that has given fabulous benefits to top officials, while the board throws crumbs to the SSS rank-and-file in the form of miserly pension increase in a system of dog-eat-dog that leaves the underdog behind in the scramble over the distribution of spoils of office in the SSS hierarchy.

In October 2013, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the board of directors as well as employees of the SSS could keep their huge bonuses after Malacañang found nothing wrong with such incentives despite strong public criticism.

Lacierda said officials and employees of the SSS were given bonuses in line with a performance-based incentives system set by the GCG.

“You can only declare a bonus if the GOCC profits and the SSS has earned huge profits,” he said. “There is also a corresponding bonus for employees.”

De Quiros silent

Lacierda also praised the SSS for remaining focused on its duty as keepers of the fund, adding that “I can say they are performing their job responsibly and with utmost good faith.”

Less reassuring to the public is the fact that despite all their explanations, the SSS executives have hardly given an assurance to the public that they are considering cutting back on their fabulous bonuses.

De Quiros is absolutely silent on this issue.


SSS has earned huge profits?! And the SSS officials & employees who are receiving decent salaries are the only ones worthy of benefiting from it? Why forget increasing the pensions of the lowly senior citizen SSS pensioners who are only receiving P1,200 per month -- which is far below the cost of living. Who are supposed to be first priority here, the boss (the SSS members & pensioners) or the ones who are working for the boss?

Dugo at pawis ng mga mangagawa ang nagbigay buhay sa pundo ng SSS, pero ang nakinabang sa kinitang profit ng SSS ay ang kanilang mga opisyales at empleyado lamang?!

Where is our sense of social justice here?!


At the grass roots level, this presidentiable has become the refuge of the families of the lowly SSS pensioners. And who says they would not support him? And who says he could not help them?


Heed with your heart; and your head won't hurt

For most of the electorate at the grass roots level, this issue is a major deal-breaker for them. So for those who really care, please listen and do something. Heed with your heart and you'll find right ways to solve this problem.

Head of the misers – the SSS veto
by Rex Felix C. Salvador
Current Affairs, Opinion, Young Voices Speak, Youth

The much buzzed-over veto of P-Noy to the pension hike of SSS beneficiaries makes everyone do their heavy face-palms. It’s an outrageous move. Both houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate, already approved its passing. All possible holes about the bill were already debated. Only the President’s signature is missing. According to the President, the agency would go bankrupt if the bill was approved. This statement is supported by SSS, not showing any intent of giving the increase to the poor retirees.

According to a source, Social Security System’s (SSS) funds can still support its beneficiaries up to 2029, compared to the pension fund of Canada, which can only run till 2022. The current minimum pension for a retiree is 1,200 pesos, and hadn’t been adjusted according to the current inflation. According to a study, 5,000 pesos is the minimum money needed by every member of the family per month. Exaggeration intended, the pension’s worth is only enough for buying a piece of chichirya. 2,000 pesos is only a minute compensation of the government for their rotten services and propagandas.

The things that should be done are these: fix the collection system of the agency (since 38% is only collected overall), find better investments, abolish the million-worth perks of SSS higher ups (Seriously? Receiving perks for doing a horrible job?), and, impossible it may seem,remove the corruption in the agency. It is the job of SSS to find a way to make the worker’s funds to grow, not the retirees. It doesn’t mean that if the pension should go on a hike, the same would also be applied on paying contributions. The retirees are the ones that should be obeyed in this situation, because they’re the ones who worked hard for their deserved pensions.

Remember when the President approved the salary of government workers? When it involves his salary, he approves it in no time. But when it comes to the masses’, he jeers at it and unsuccessfully console us using his statements. We pay our tax, we pay our contributions. I’m not sure if we’re working our heads off for our family or to pay the government. Unfair and kuripot, these titles are frankly for those sitting high, but act like the ones on the high-chair


Kakulangan ng katarungang panlipunan

Sa ating mga kandidato, anong plano ninyo sa inhustisyang ito?


Hell to pay
By: InterAksyon.com
January 19, 2016 11:27 AM

We sympathize with President Aquino. We really do. His veto of the proposed P2,000 hike in monthly SSS pensions was not without basis, and, as economic and fiscal managers point out, may have been the prudent thing to do. The government and taxpayers will have to find an additional P56-billion per year to cover higher pensions for more than 2 million retirees. The SSS currently only has P40-billion per year to cover prevailing pension rates. Clearly there is a funding gap, and that can only be covered by dipping into the SSS buffer, to the extent that - assuming that nothing is done - those reserves, now good for 26 years, could run dry in 12 instead.

President Aquino says he had no choice. His defenders say the proposed pension hike - put forward by Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares, and principally sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Cynthia Villar - was in the end a popular but dangerous program: as they frame it, the definition of "populist". The President's men therefore say PNoy did the unpopular but responsible thing: in their mind, the epitome of "leadership". Why - to strike a stern but caring fatherly stance and to deprive us of something that may be wonderful in the short term but that will no doubt be damaging to our household in the long run - is this not in fact "presidential"?

"Justified", "prudent", maybe even "arguably correct". These are gracious enough words to give President Aquino credit and the benefit of the doubt. But for all the debates that will continue for as long as there are retirees living on minimum monthly pensions of P1,200 to P2,400, and for the political fallout that is now left for Daang Matuwid candidates to rake, this entire episode will still only redound - ultimately, again, and precisely - to an object lesson on leadership.

Yes, the President had the courage to decide above political interests - that of Mar Roxas especially. But the price to be paid will not be calculated in billions of pesos nor the years it will take for the SSS reserves to go "bankrupt". (A disingenuous and hyperbolic characterization of what will come to pass, by the way, only if government will do what it has done with the SSS in six years of Daang Matuwid, or in the 19 years since the last real adjustment in pensions under the Ramos administration: Nothing. But we digress.)

It is Daang Matuwid's standard bearer for the May elections that will have hell to pay, not so much for Aquino's prudence, but for the last-minute and in fact retroactive scrambling to explain. Malacanang's plaint to "hear us out" should not turn the tables on the weeping retirees that now refuse to give them a minute’s audience. (They literally can't listen, in any case. They can't afford hearing aids.) If anything, the desperation to get a word in above wailing lolos and lolas indicts the rash that again and again breaks out of the Aquino administration’s skin: symptoms of shortsightedness, insensitivity, a dearth of political savvy, and, as Sen. Antonio Trillanes put it, "lack of management skills and lack of leadership skills."

Many other virtues round out true presidential leadership: not only courage, but also count such gifts as the ability to build consensus, to be circumspect, to have foresight, a sense of strategy, and political will - which means the willingness and skill to play politics.

Funny how the President’s defenders now accuse Colmenares of "playing politics", as if a socialist who actually knows how to work in a House dominated by the bourgeoisie is more frightening than a President who ignores what is happening in his co-equal branches of government until a paper with a deadline lands on his notoriously clean desk.

In the time of President Fidel V. Ramos, the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) was institutionalized as a mechanism for Malacanang and Congress, with representatives from the private sector and civil society, to thresh out legislative agendas. It was set up, in other words, not only to facilitate and practice the art of the compromise, but also precisely to avoid episodes like this.

The law creating it thus requires the LEDAC, chaired by the President of the Republic, to meet at least once every quarter.

PNoy convened the LEDAC twice in 2011 - and then never again.

Just not his style.

We would not presume to change his habits. But the President and his advisers must accept and admit the consequences of their less than dynamic habits. In this case, we may allow that the decision to veto may have been without choice. But the fallout was avoidable.

As a political instrument, the veto has two modes. It exists first as a threat, before it comes down as an act. The threat of a veto is elegantly more powerful than the actual act for two reasons. First, it signals and allows for compromise. Second, it covers your ass in case you have to act.

On the matter of the pension hike, there was never a threat of veto. Just the act of it coming down on the public as if from nowhere.

Sen. Franklin Drilon called the Colmenares-Villar proposal an "early Christmas gift of the Senate to SSS pensioners." Now they're accusing the sponsors of playing politics?

It is one thing for his team to complain that President Aquino was put in a no-win situation. But it was his advisers and partymates, in control of both Houses of Congress, who led and left him in that corner. And he let them.

As to the motives of everyone else, nobody can say that this was about anything other than social justice. Not when septuagenarians living off P2,000-P3,000 a month will need another long lifetime to see what SSS executives receive in bonuses in one year.

Nobody can say that this was about Colmenares running for senator. The original bill was filed in 2011. Nobody can say that there was no sensible discussion about the bill. The original proposal was for a hike of P5,000. You can imagine the debates and outcry over the impossibility of funding that. The final proposal for P2,000 therefore comes imbued with the presumption of debate, and ultimately, evidence of compromise.

How reasonable a compromise? That discussion can go on, ad nauseum and in realtime. But nobody can say that Colmenares almost pulled this off just by talking to himself.

The vote for the Colmenares proposal among congressmen was a nail-biter: 211-0. For such a result, and beyond the socialist's doggedness, keep in mind, too, the presumable leadership and guidance of the Speaker, QC Rep. Feliciano Belmonte, merely a former president of the GSIS.

Meanwhile, the Upper Chamber, voting 15-1, adopted the House version in toto. Only Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is on record as having opposed the bill. Everybody else was onboard: Drilon and every other LP member or administration ally in the Senate.

Why demonize Colmenares for wanting to do the right thing, and for playing so well the game that President Aquino, the Liberal Party, and Team Daang Matuwid should have joined in much earlier?

Blame instead a leadership and council that could have headed off this crisis but that, by some unfathomable complacency, incompetence, negligence to their principals, or all of the above, set everyone up for a sucker punch instead. Even when they're in the right, they set themselves up for a spectacular fall.

Which is why we sympathize with Mar Roxas. We really do. Already run ragged trying to catch up in the surveys with all other presidential aspirants, he is further weighed down by the burden of the incumbent. To voters in May, President Aquino = Daang Matuwid = Jun Abaya = Mamasapano = Traffic = Walang Malasakit = Mar Roxas. Throw the SSS debacle into that equation, and it's no wonder Mar has been nowhere to be ambushed by reporters since Friday.

Maybe there's yet time for some win-win compromise, Aquino and his allies assure. Maybe executive action can spring for a P1,000-adjustment? Maybe P500? Let's put our heads together and maybe we can find a way to let the SSS raise contributions to make up the funding gap?

But wait, weren't all these part of the plan in the first place, Senator Drilon? 

Who's politicking now? Any new bright idea is well and good. Except that nothing is new, save for every occasion to ask: Well, why only now? 

It is because President Aquino did not care about this matter until it was too late for anyone to safely leave the room. Nothing can change that fact. Not even the prospect of being ultimately right. More exasperating, this latest bumbling by Team Daang Matuwid underscores the President's disdain for the kind of politics that get things done. The plain sincere, hardworking, principled one where politicians reach across ideological divides to hammer out compromises that move our lives up and forward, if even by P2,000 a month every two decades.


Serve and lead by understanding others' perspectives


"Life is about connecting. And connecting is about taking on others' point of view. You see, our world is a shared experience -- fractured by individual perspectives. Imagine if we could all feel understood." --Brian Miller, Magician, on TEDx Talk