House leaders block SSS pension hike during final session

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016 - Last Updated on February 5, 2017

A final attempt to push the pension increase for Social Security System (SSS) retirees failed as House leaders blocked the proposal to override President Aquino’s veto on the measure.

Up to the final session of the 16th Congress last Monday (June 6), Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares urged his fellow lawmakers to approve the P2,000 SSS pension hike, which was vetoed by the President in February.

“This is our historic chance, Mister Speaker, to grasp this opportunity to alleviate the plight of our senior citizens. I move, Mister Speaker, that we reconsider HB (House Bill) 5842 and override the veto of President Aquino,” Colmenares said at final last plenary session on Monday.

Colmenares’ proposal was supported by Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, Manila 5th District Rep. Amado Bagatsing, and Buhay Party-lisy Rep. Lito Atienza – who took turns in urging fellow House members to override the President’s veto.

But House Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II and Deputy Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao opposed Colmenares’ proposal, saying the Senate already adjourned its session and that voting on the matter would be futile.

Atienza, who had to raise his voice during the heated debate on the override resolution, slammed the House leaders’ move to block the measure as “grossly unfair, undemocratic and dictatorial.”

At least 193 votes were needed for the House of Representatives to overturn the veto on the SSS pension hike bill. Colmenares said they had mustered 128 signatures for the override resolution.

“We could have made a legislative intervention that will set a precedent against an unjust presidential veto, but we abdicated from that role castrating congressional power fearing the wrath of an outgoing president,” Colmenares said in a Bulatlat report, adding that it is not the job of Congress to spare the President from embarassment.

Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he will approve the P2,000 SSS pension increase once he assumes the presidency.

“All is not lost, however, because President-elect Duterte supports the P2000 SSS pension increase.  We hope he will immediately act on the increase once he takes office in July,” Colmenares said.

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