Wednesday, March 02, 2016



Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said there are still ways to revive the P2,000-increase in the monthly pension of Social Security System (SSS) members that was rejected by the Palace, either through an override of the presidential veto when Congress resumes its session after the national elections or an executive order issued by the next president.
Escudero said he has not given up on the legislated SSS pension hike as lawmakers will still have a chance to override President Aquino’s veto of the enrolled House Bill No. 5842 when Congress convenes again on May 23.
  Escudero had earlier initiated a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to override the presidential veto, which has so far garnered 12 signatures or four votes shy of the required two-thirds majority vote in the upper chamber.
 Under the Constitution, Congress can override a veto by passing the bill by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Charter also provides that the override must be initiated by the chamber where the measure originated, which is the House of Representatives in the case of the SSS pension hike bill. 
To date, only 75 representatives or more than a third of the 192 votes or two-thirds House membership have signed the override resolution of Partido Galing at Puso senatorial candidate and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is also the author of HB 5842.
“Mahaba-habang lakbayin pa ‘yun pero may panahon pa naman,” Escudero pointed out.
The veteran lawmaker, who is running as independent under the banner “Gobyernong may Puso,” appealed to the electorate to campaign and vote for the supporters of the SSS pension hike bill in order for the measure to have a reasonable chance of being passed into law.
 If the override fails, Escudero said there is a possibility that the next president may increase SSS pension through an executive order.
 In the resolution he filed, Escudero maintained that the proposed increase is necessary to provide “immediate and tangible relief” to some two million SSS pensioners, considering that the current minimum pension of P1,200 was not enough to cover their sustenance with the high cost of living.
 He explained that with the average national inflation rate of 3.725 percent over the past four years, even the average monthly pension of P3,169 is not enough to cover the rising cost of living for the past 18 years.
 The National Statistical Coordinating Board pegs the monthly poverty threshold for a family of five at P8,022 per month, Escudero noted.
 Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero criticized attempts to confuse the public on the supposed similarity of the case of his presidential running mate Sen. Grace Poe to that of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte Mayor Rommel Arnaldo.
 Arnaldo was recently disqualified by the Supreme Court, which ruled that he was not eligible to hold public office as a natural-born resident after he used his American passport just 11 days following his renunciation of his US citizenship.
 Escudero said the jurisprudence laid down in the Arnaldo case was “not applicable to the petitions filed by Sen. Grace against the Commission on Elections.”
 He said Poe’s case was “totally different” because the records would show that Sen. Grace Poe never used her US passport after renouncing her American citizenship in October 2010, when she assumed as chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
 “Nanlilito lamang sila sa Arnaldo case. Sa Arnaldo case, ginamit ni mayor ang passport pagkatapos mag-repatriate. Ang sabi ng korte, ang pag-repatriate at pag-renounce ay balewala at walang bisa matapos niyang gamitin ang kanyang US passport,” Escudero pointed out.
 “Ang tagal nang may mga nagsasabi na ginamit daw ni Sen. Grace ang kanyang US passport pagkatapos niyang mag-repatriate pero walang nailabas na ebidensya tungkol doon,” he added.
 According to Escudero, entries on Poe’s passport and travel records at the Bureau of Immigration would bear that the last time she used her US passport was in March 2010 or seven months before she renounced her American citizenship.
 Poe has a pending petition in the SC seeking to reverse two Comelec decisions canceling her certificate of candidacy for president allegedly due to false material representations regarding her citizenship and residency.
 In her petition, Poe maintains that she is qualified to seek the presidency because she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has complied with the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates./MP

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