Business, labor groups urge Duterte to issue order postponing SSS contribution hike

Top business, trade and labor leaders have come together and issued a joint appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately release the Executive Order (EO) deferring the increase in the Social Security System (SSS) monthly contributions of both employees and workers.

The September 27 joint letter, signed by the heads of 10 private sector and workers’ groups, said the issuance of the EO is necessary to allow embattled micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to continue to operate their businesses and provide jobs amid the prolonged challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte on May 26, 2021 approved Republic Act (RA) No. 11548, which gives him the authority to defer the scheduled increase in SSS premium contributions for the duration of the declaration of state of calamity.

The joint letter said the signing of RA 11548 sends a positive signal to employers and employees that “government empathizes with business in its efforts to keep jobs and livelihoods to prevent further economic losses and the resulting social problems.”

“However, four months after the enactment of the law, the Executive Order implementing the Act has yet to be issued, even as the higher SSS premium already took effect last January 2021,” the statement added.

SSS members’ monthly contributions were increased to 13% of their incomes at the start of the year, higher than the current 12% contribution drawn from their salaries.

“It is in this light that we are constrained to write the President for urgent action on this pending request for the deferment. We have yet to fully re-open and many have already lost their income sources either permanently or temporarily,” the joint letter said.

“Postponing the implementation of the higher SSS premium will be a critical recovery measure by helping sustain the cash flow especially of the very vulnerable MSMEs. It will also serve as a very concrete government contribution to the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS) program that is implemented with private sector.”

The letter was signed by the heads of trade and business groups, namely, Benedicto Yujuico, president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Edgardo G. Lacson, chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines; Sergio Ortiz-Luis, Jr., president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc.; Henry Lim Bon Liong, president of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Edgar O. Chua, chairman of the Makati Business Club; and Aurelio Montinola III, president of the Management Association of the Philippines.

It was co-signed by labor leaders Raymond Democrito Mendoza, president of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines; Jose Matula, president of the Federation of Free Workers; Daniel Edralin, chairman of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa; and Rene Magtubo, national chairman of the Partido Manggagawa.

RA 11548 states that the implementation of the one percent (1%) 2021 increase in SSS contribution rates “may be suspended by the President of the Philippines for the duration of the state of calamity under Proclamation No. 929, s. 2020, as amended by Proclamation No. 1021, s. 2020.”

Proclamation 929, promulgated on March 16, 2020 declared a state of calamity in the country for six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while Proclamation No. 1021, promulgated on September 16, 2020, extends the declared state of calamity for one year, or from September 13, 2020 to September 12, 2021.

Last September 10, Duterte through Proclamation 1218 extended the validity of the declaration of state of calamity for one more year, or until September 12, 2022.

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