February 20, 2017, 4:37 pm
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Backtracking Digong

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno has opened the year by dousing cold water to hopes nurtured by his Duterte colleague SSS Chairman Amado Valdez that the pension fund for private sector workers would be able to deliver on President Duterte’s campaign promise of a pension hike.

Valdez in December even said P1,000 increase could be given in early January and another P1,000 a couple of years after. The news was received as a welcome Christmas gift by a grateful nation of senior citizens.

Now Diokno, one of three economic and financial advisers of the Chief Executive (the other two are Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia) said this increase cannot be given.

Diokno said taxes paid by all Filipinos cannot be used to subsidize the private pension fund, and SSS should require its 30 million members to pay higher premium, manage the fund well, etc. He added the plan should not have reached the President’s desk and could have been resolved by the SSS Board of Trustees.

Reminded that Duterte promised the pension hike during the campaign, funny that Diokno had to retort: “The candidate Duterte is different from the president Duterte. You see that all over, even worldwide, candidate Trump versus president Trump. You have promised something but when you see the data, you will realize that it is not doable.”

It may be so, but a promise is a promise. Who knows how many voters supported Digong on the basis of this single issue? Who know how many voters dumped Mar Roxas because P-Noy Aquino vetoed a pension hike? If it could not be done, why promise it in the first place? Diokno and Pernia might have been correct in the position that the people’s taxes should not be used to subsidize a private pension fund, but Diokno is utterly wrong in saying that it should not have reached the President.

It was Digong’s categorical promise, and it should reach his desk for his signature. He may sign it or reject it, but at least Digong should be given the opportunity to stand by his decision.
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