September 30, 2023

Top business, trade, and labor leaders asked President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately release the executive order (EO) deferring the increase in the Social Security System monthly contributions of employees and workers.

The Sept. 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 approved Republic Act 11548, which gave 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 the “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 EO implementing the law 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 percent of their incomes at the start of the year, higher than the current 12 percent 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 reopen and many have already lost their income sources either permanently or temporarily,” the 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 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, chair 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, chair 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, chair of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa; and Rene Magtubo, national chair of the Partido Manggagawa.

RA 11548 states that the implementation of the one percent 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 929, s. 2020, as amended by Proclamation 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 1021, promulgated on Sept. 16, 2020, extends the state of calamity to Sept. 12.

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