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Promises, promises

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Promises, promises

/ 12:19 AM February 27, 2017

Barring unforeseen circumstances, all qualified pensioners of the Social Security System (SSS) will receive a P1,000 increase in benefits effective January 2017.

President Duterte signed recently the order that makes good one of the promises he made in last year’s election campaign. His directive also includes a 1.5-percent upward adjustment in premium contributions by active SSS members starting May 2017.

He took this move against the advice of his economic managers that doing so before Congress has enacted certain tax reform laws would adversely affect the financial viability of the SSS.

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Although helpful, the increase in premium contributions would not, by itself, be sufficient to sustain the agency’s long-term operation. The SSS has to further sharpen its investment strategies for its reserve fund to raise the money needed to meet its existing and future financial requirements.

Despite the delay in the increase of benefits, it was welcome news to thousands of SSS pensioners who, banking on that promise, voted Mr. Duterte to the presidency.

But a similar feeling of elation cannot be said for the country’s unskilled and semi-skilled workers who are still awaiting the fulfillment of the President’s campaign commitment to abolish “endo” or illegal labor contracting activities.

On several occasions, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said the circular that would make labor contracting a thing of the past was ready for release and implementation.

The purported order reconciles the conflicting interests of the employers and the laborers, with the latter being assured of security of tenure and enjoyment of legally mandated employment benefits.

Organized labor has repeatedly gone to the streets to express its disappointment with the continued delay in the elimination of an employment problem that has plagued the country for decades.

As of latest report, the draft circular is already on the President’s desk for his final review and signoff. To date, however, nothing has been heard from Malacañang about it.

If the length of time it took the President to act on the SSS pension increase is used as benchmark, the promised solution to “endo” would probably reach fruition on … May 1, Labor Day?

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A campaign promise that may remain unfulfilled for a long time (or probably never) is the elimination of illegal drugs in the country. Candidate Duterte vowed to put an end to the drug problem within six months from his taking over the reins of government.

The six months have come and gone but the malady still remains. In an effort to explain his failure to meet his self-imposed deadline, the President said he did not realize the enormity of the problem and so he has moved his completion target from six months to his six-year term.

In fairness to the President, though, there is one campaign promise that he quickly met: The burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani.

Whether or not this is something to be proud of, or should be considered a feather in Mr. Duterte’s cap, is a big question mark. But for the Marcoses who got their longstanding wish to make a “hero” out of their patriarch, it was a feat.

Not to be outdone, and following in the footstep of their leader, some Cabinet members have come up with their own set of impressive promises.

Budget Secretary has said that the Duterte administration will be the “golden age of infrastructure” with P8 trillion poised to be spent between now and 2022 to construct or improve much needed infrastructure projects.

Until some lawmakers cautioned Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade from raising false hopes about the programs of his department, he was often in the news announcing plans for the construction of highways, regional airports and other transportation facilities to speed up the movement of people and products in the country.

Eight months into the Duterte administration, hardly anything has been heard about the status of these post-election promises. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they will not go the way of the saying “promises are made to be broken.”

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TAGS: pension hike, Philippine news update, Social Security System
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