And now that SSS president Emilio de Quiros is being roundly criticized for giving himself and his board million-peso bonuses while increasing the contributions of members, I wonder if his brother the columnist will come to his defense, as well.
For the scandal-prone Aquino administration, the anger directed at SSS
comes at a most inopportune time.
After all, in an obvious response to the escalating disgust over the misuse of pork barrel funds, this same government has said that it will hold off on increasing the fares of Metro Manila's overcrowded light rail trains, a plan that Aquino himself has been itching to implement for the longest time.
Of course, De Quiros'
distribution of million-peso bonuses has already secured the approval of a government agency that monitors compensation for state-owned firms like SSS
In like manner, Malacañang had earlier approved the increase of monthly contributions for SSS
members, something Aquino himself had said was needed to extend the actuarial life of the fund.
has explained that there is nothing wrong with the P1-million bonuses he
gave to himself and to the members of his
board, because he
has to compensate those who perform well and who might leave for better-paying jobs in the private sector.
And after all, the bonuses were not limited to SSS
board members; the best-performing 10 percent of the agency's rank and file also received incentives equivalent to 2.5 percent of their salary, while all the other workers got 1.2-1.5 percent in bonuses, as well.
"If the question is, 'Is it moral?' I think it is," De Quiros
should have confined his
explanation to the legality of the SSS
Morality-or even propriety -is apparently not really his
area of competence, else he
would not have accepted a job that he
would not have gotten, had his
brother not been close to Aquino.
But let's talk about the morality of the bonuses anyway: specifically, can De Quiros
explain why, if he
and the other people managing the fund were doing so great, he
can morally raise premiums?
Because, if you ask any SSS
member and his
employer (who will both pay higher premiums starting January), they will tell you the people running the fund cannot be doing such a fine job, if they have to ask for higher contributions.
And if you ask any SSS
employee who isn't a member of the fat-cat board about the million-peso bonuses, you will learn that their own 1.2-2.5 percent incentives are not nearly enough, when they already get so little in salaries that cannot be augmented by per diems for board and committee meetings-even if it is they who do all the heavy lifting.
The truly moral-and proper and even logical-thing for De Quiros to do would be to hold off on million-peso bonuses for himself and other SSS board members if these top officials cannot, with all their fine work, prevent an increase in contributions.
Or, if De Quiros
truly wanted to reward the people in his
agency who were performing well, he
would have given a lot more to the lowly SSS
personnel (especially those who labor on the front lines of customer service) instead of giving P1 million to board members who don't work the entire week-and who already receive P40,000 per board meeting and P20,000 per committee meeting, the times when they do show up.
Besides, the million-peso self-given bonuses to De Quiros
board members, even if they really worked hard to get them, could at least have been deferred until a similar scandal that is rocking the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System has been sorted out.