A pro-Duterte Facebook page has done it again, misleading its readers by failing to verify whether the articles they are sharing are true, or at least not outdated!
Facebook page “Duterte” shared an article from a blog, weblogph.net, claiming that the Senate has approved the P2,000 SSS pension hike. The blog’s title reads, “Senate approves bill granting an extra P2,000 monthly to SSS pensioners.” The page naturally announced this as good news for all of its followers!
However, if you Google the exact title the blog used, the top results is that of a CNN article back in November 11, 2015.
If you click through to We Blog PH’s article, it is totally similar to that CNN article. It even uses the same photo. Everything is the same, where content is concerned.
We checked which one could be at fault here. Did the Duterte fan page deliberately share the article knowing that it was a duplicate of an old news article, or did the admins really think that this is a recent article?
We Googled that specific We Blog PH article and found that the blog posted the article two days ago, making it seem like an article about something that happened recently.
But the pro-Duterte Facebook page is also at fault here. It is their responsibility to their thousands of followers to check every piece of content that they share to avoid misleading people, or in this case, getting people’s hopes up. Their followers believed them, judging by these comments adoring and thanking Duterte, while bashing former President Benigno Aquino for vetoing the bill.
Reasons behind Aquino’s veto
Aquino vetoed the SSS hike in January 2016. He explained his decision in a message to Congress, saying that that “the viability of the entire SSS benefit system, whose present membership comprises about 31 million individuals, will be seriously compromised in favor of over two million pensioners and their dependents,” the Inquirer quoted.
The former President further explained that “the P2,000 across-the-board pension increase with a corresponding adjustment of the minimum monthly pension will result in substantial negative income for the SSS.”
Aquino’s Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that such an increase “will yield a deficit of P16 billion to P26 billion annually.” He also said that the SSS’ Investment Reserve Fund (IRF) will be depleted by 2029 if the P2,000 increase would push through.
What’s up with the bill seeking SSS pension increase now?
Senator Antonio Trillanes said earlier in July that he would re-file the bill to grant pensioners an increase of P2,000 in their pension.
A Rappler report enumerating all the bills re-filed in the 17th Congress included the SSS pension hike, among other bills such as those for freedom of information, anti-LGBT discrimination, anti-political dynasty, absolute divorce, and more.
Rappler wrote that aside from Trillanes, Senator Cynthia Villar, the principal sponsor of the bill, also re-filed it.
However, SSS President and CEO Emilio S. de Quiros Jr. told the media that improving their collection efficiency would not be enough to fund the P2,000 increase for SSS pensioners. He said that Duterte’s administration should develop a funding mechanism first to support the fund’s actuarial life before approving the increase.
In a Manila Bulletin report, de Quiros said that better collection efficiency would not produce the P56 billion needed to fund the planned increase.
He also said that it would take time for them to support further pension hikes.
“If you want a situation where the fund can guarantee every member pension, it should be about 70-years. But right now, you’re doing just from 2016 to 2042, so that’s only 26-years,” de Quiros said.
He added that they would also need to increase the current contribution rate by 5 to 6 percent to extend SSS’ actuarial life, or the Duterte administration could provide a hefty financial support through capital infusion of around P130 billion annually starting 2030.
What’s going to happen to Duterte’s promise?
In June, Duterte promised to support legislator’s move to increase the SSS pension.
But Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said that the current administration will still have to review the bills filed in Congress.
“When we were campaigning, we did not have all the numbers. It wasn’t published, it wasn’t available. I think just give us time to look at it, to address both the political side of it [and] the technical side – the actuarial issue plus the issue of collection,” he said.
“I am not saying no, but I am saying we really have to study the issue. You know this is a technical issue. It’s not legislation,” Dominguez added.
Even a group of economists, Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), urged Duterte not to approve any increase before studying fiscal prudence and specifying source of funds.
“We recommend that any major increase in pension should only be considered in the context of a thorough review of the entire Philippine pension system to improve its structure and governance for a more adequate, affordable, sustainable and robust system,” FEF said.
Now, it seems like Aquino made the unpopular decision to veto the bill to protect the SSS members in the long run, given all these concerns about the possibility of the depletion of the SSS fund in few years’ time.
The Facebook page of Duterte’s supporters is misleading the netizens by sharing recycled, duplicated news of the P2,000 SSS pension. It’s just wrong to raise people’s hopes even if nothing is guaranteed about the increase just yet. Take note that despite Duterte’s earlier promise of backing the SSS pension hike, his Finance Secretary seemed to be taking a step back, not promising anything at all until they finish reviewing the SSS’ actuarial issue. The pensioners need the increase, but this might cause an even bigger problem in the long run if the funding is not sorted out right.
Be Informed. Beat the Trolls, Share the Truth!