PANGASINAN—An open letter was circulating in the net about an appeal of Abraham “Abe” P. Belena, a retired journalist and member of the Social Security System (SSS) addressed to Finance Secretary and SSS Chairperson Carlos Dominguez III.
He said that he represents the 2.5 million SSS pensioners who have been inadvertently left out of any and all contingency programs of government to help highly vulnerable sectors facing the raging Covid-19 crisis.
He reminded the chairperson that many SSS pensioners are receiving measly monthly pensions and even lesser than the beneficiaries of the government subsidized 4Ps program, which is purportedly designed for the poorest of the poor sectors of society.
He said that “this is sad because we earned our pensions with our own blood, sweat and tears in helping keep the national economy move forward during our prime years.”
It is true that some pensioners are living productive lives. They are earning through alternative ways although a small paltry compared to what they used to receive during their heydays.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic left them worthless and dependent on others to survive. “On government orders to stay home, we have been denied the right to add additional pesos to our meager pensions to spend our most basic of needs and buy our maintenance medicines. Under these circumstances, we face stark danger of keeping our body and soul together,” Belena lamented.
He appealed for Sec. Domiguez to intervene on their behalf on the following proposals for them to survive before it is too late:
- defer the payment of April 2020 amortization of all pension loans deducted from monthly pensions;
- advance as soon as possible at least one half of the 13th month pensions of retirees; and,
- lift the postponement of granting of the second tranche of Php 1,000 a month across the board pension adjustment promised by the government for this year.
He further said they are only seeking for compassion in this time of uncertainty. “We are not asking for dole-outs, Mr. Secretary. We only seek compassion and social justice from the SSS to elderly members.”