ROUGH CUTS | Cruelty to pensioners  

How cruel can a government, any of its agencies, or its many corporate entities be? Well, any of them can be cruel like dictators and despots of the old and new worlds. They can also be as devious as any other scheming private syndicates feeding on the helplessness of their victims.

We are taking to task here the Social Security System (SSS) whose management has issued an order to have pensioners in the Calinan area getting their monthly pension from either the One Network Bank or BDO Bank transfer their ATM account to other prescribed banks. We do not know if this is true in all other areas of the country, or this is only for pensioners in Calinan area or the whole of Davao City.

Yes, lately pensioners who have their pension ATM account with ONB and BDO in Calinan were advised to transfer it to other banks like the PNB, China Banking and RCBC. By simply listening to pensioners talk about  the order it would seem harmless. But a closer observation of its impact on the number of ageing pensioners any Tom, Dick and Harry can immediately imagine the cruelty it has heaped on the unfortunate elders some of whom can hardly move without assistance from other persons.

In Calinan district for example, some pensioners have to line up the vicinity of the SSS field office starting early dawn to get to the top of the priority numbers. And this is only the first of the series of compliance with the transfer procedure which is to get an endorsement from the SSS to the banks of its choice.

Then the hapless pensioners, after getting the SSS endorsement, have to go to any of the pension firm’s preferred banks they wish to transfer their account. Upon reaching the bank the pensioner finds out that there are already so many ahead of them seeking to get their priority numbers. And to their chagrin they are suddenly told that the bank would only process that many or that few transfer applications. Then they are ordered to come back the next day, but again they have to first get priority numbers. Believe you us guys, the deadline for the transfer is come June 30, 2018. And so far there is no official word on the extension although there are loose talks.

What actually makes the transfer order cruel and very disadvantageous is that all pensioners are already over 60 years old. Their ages range from 61 to as old as 93 years with the bulk in the 65-85 years old level. And as we have earlier said here, the ageing pension beneficiaries converging in the Calinan SSS field office and the accredited bank branches in the district come from far-flung barangays in Marilog, Baguio, Lamanan and even Malabog. Travel to and from these areas takes as long as thirty minutes to one hour froth with risks  from road accidents and even ambushes by rebel elements and ordinary bandits.

We were told by some of the already physically weak pensioners that they have to sleep in the houses of their relatives in Calinan proper if only to be in the vicinity of the SSS field office and the banks even before the break of dawn just to be ahead of the pack. We, in fact, personally heard an 80′s woman using cane who told her seatmate while waiting for her priority number to be called at the SSS field office that she had to travel from Bunawan early dawn just to be at the said office at the start of working hours. But there were already over 20 fellow pensioners ahead of her. She was a Calinan resident when she reached compulsory retirement age years back. She now lives in Bunawan with one of her children.

Can anyone imagine how cruel can it be once being told by the bank personnel they will only process 20 or 5 transfer applications for SSS ATM accounts in one day after waiting for so many hours thirsty, hungry and bodily emasculated?

If this mandate emanates from the SSS board of directors or with its consent, how heartless and cruel can they be? How insensitive are these people for not taking into consideration the physical condition of many of the pensioners?

What is it or what perks are offered by certain banks to the SSS that make its decision makers abandon the banks that have given them basically the same depository services that the SSS is now  seeking from new banking institutions?

Yes, for the SSS to let its pensioners go through the hassle and trouble of complying the requirements of the transfer of their pension accounts to banks other than where they are currently withdrawing their monthly pension benefits, is literally making the ageing beneficiaries suffer cruelty of the highest order disguised as enhancement of pension remittance services.

And we do not even have any idea how massive was the information drive conducted by the SSS for the transfer implementation. With us in the media not knowing much about the transfer order of the SSS, the likelihood is that there may be no info drive at all.

Posted in Opinion