ROUGH CUTS| Have mercy to aging pensioners  

WELL, MAYBE it is about time to revisit this policy of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) of making it compulsory for their pensioners to personally appear before the pension agencies’ nearest offices during their birth month to make sure they are still alive while receiving pension.

We have personally observed in one of the SSS satellite offices where we made some inquiries, a very old woman who could hardly walk and apparently grimacing in pain for every step she made. This despite the assistance of two other persons who were accompanying her.

We wanted to know what the old woman was there in that office for and we were told she had to personally comply with the agency’s requirment for pensioners to show up and present themselves so there is proof that the person receiving the pension is still around and not anybody else is getting the monthly benefits intended for him or her.

The same policy is also implemented by the GSIS, the pension agency for government employees. And we have it from retirees in government that they too have to brave going to the GSIS offices during their birth month as proof of their existence on earth.

We have no idea where the government pensioners in Davao City are made to report at the GSIS office in Matina. The office building of that agency has four levels. Good for the old retirees if they are only to present themselves at the ground floor. What if they are to climb up the second, third, or worst, the fourth level. Woe unto the pensioners who are in their already very advance age.

Now, why can not these two pension agencies coordinate with the offices of local civil registrar and come up with a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) where the latter government offices furnish the former a consolidated list of those who died annually in their common area of jurisdiction?

Of course this will be little additional job on their part to prepare and submit the report (local civil registrar) and sort out pensioners in the list submitted (by the SSS and the GSIS). But what is that little inconvenience compared to the sacrifices of very old pensioners in personally reporting to either the SSS or GSIS offices?

We are certain that should this arrangement be made and effected the millions of pensioners with already advancing years will appreciate to a great extent.

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Now it can be told. Malacanang and some of the Cabinet secretaries are not communicating with each other.

This situation was brought to the open with the recent hullabaloo resulting from the report emanating from Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana that a Chinese survey ship was seen doing suspicious sailing on the waters of Benham Rise, a continental shelf awarded as within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines east of Luzon in the Pacific ocean.

In interviews conducted by media with the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs it seems no one in the said agency know of the presence of the Chinese vessel. In other words, there was no effort on the part of China to inform the Philippine government of the trip of their survey or research vessel.

On the other hand, when President Rodrigo Duterte was asked by media whether or not he was aware of the China vessel’s apparent research activities within the Benham Rise area the President said that he has talks with Chinese leaders on the matter.

Of course the Foreign Affairs Department was quick to send a Note Verbale to the Chinese government which, up to this writing has not yet been answered. The Chinese embassy in Manila, though has explained admitting that indeed there was a Chinese vessel that sailed the seas of the Benham Rise but this was merely using its right to UN-sanctioned freedom of navigation.

But many Philippine officials, Defense Chief Lorenzana and some congressmen included, are suspicious of the explanation of the Chinese embassy. They say that the Philippines must not take this for granted because they are “wary” with China.

Again, this is not the first time that the weak communication protocol among officials of the Executive Department of government including the Office of the President has been exposed. In this latest imbroglio we see it beneficial for the entire executive department to sit down and review its internal as well as inter-agency communication processes.

 

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