Baguio Council presses early release of pensioner’s bonuses

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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, urged the State-owned Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) for the possible early release of their pensioner’s 13th month and Christmas bonuses, respectively, to be given in two tranches.

In a resolution, city legislators proposed that the first half of the said bonuses be released in September while the second half will be released on December in anticipation of the reported prolonged implementation of the community quarantine in the city against the rapid spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“With the understanding that the present circumstances may not warrant the ease of granting the intent of this resolution in its entirety, it may be much more possible for the GSIS and the SSS to release the 13 month and Christmas bonuses, respectively, in two tranches, the first half in early September and the second half in December,” the resolution stated.

The council added the same arrangement will ensure that pensioner’s still receive something for Christmas in the wake of the expected prolonged implementation of the community quarantine to prevent the possible transmission of the deadly virus in the city.

The two State-run pension fund administrators, GSIS and SSS, release cash gifts to retired public servants and employees, as well as old-age and disability pensioners, looking forward to what they fondly call Christmas bonus.

During the previous year, the GSIS released some P3.12 billion for Christmas cash gift beginning December 15, 2019 benefitting 234,348 pensioners.

However, GSIS basic survivorship pensioners, dependent pensioners, pensioners under Republic Act (RA) 6599, or the Portability Law, and pro-rate and lump sum pensioners are not reportedly qualified to the Christmas cash gift.

SSS pensioners, on the other hand, get their holiday treat through the release of their 13th month bonus normally released during late November to benefit its more than 2 million pensioners nationwide in the amount of P22 billion.

The council pointed out that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which has drastically affected the majority of lives in the country and the world, every available resource that may be tapped so as to sustain the lives and livelihood of the constituents, has become eminent and necessary.

According to the council, while it is true the GSIS and SSS had been timely releasing the monthly pension of their pensioners during the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine, these pensioners continue to need money for their and families’ daily basic needs, thus, the GSIS and SSS should devise a scheme to make sure these bonuses are released early to be used and plowed into the mainstream economy.

City councilors expressed optimism the GSIS and SSS will favorably act on the aforesaid request to help in providing pensioners with disposable funds that they could use to help in bringing back the vibrance of the local economy. By Dexter A. See