By Fil C. Sionil
I’m not referring to the much talked about “tokhang” program of the Philippine National Police (PNP). But, step aside PNP chief Ronald de la Rosa, the financial market has its very own Gen. Bato doing the rounds to collect the correct contribution.
This “tokhang collection” is a take off from the Operation “tokhang” of the PNP, though it is nowhere near it. This one is benign. It is the program of Social Security System (SSS) President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel Dooc to go after negligent employers to pay the rightful contributions of their workforce.
The word “tokhang “ (is derived from two Visayan words “toktok” or knock and “hangyo” or to plead). Mr. Dooc and his team make surprise visits to supermarkets, malls and even wet markets to find out whether the establishment owners are complying with their obligations to their staff.
The SSS top officials found that there is much to be desired in collection efficiency.
“We’re doing tokhang collection because of delinquency…there are evaders,” he said.
The tokhang collection project has borne fruit. SSS collection efficiency has tremendously improved, growing 11.74 percent to P162 billion. Membership monthly contribution surged to P14 billion in 2017 from P12 billion and P13 billion in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For the month of February this year, contributions jumped to P16 billion. Mr. Dooc says that this will provide SSS flexibility in its investment portfolio, generating more revenues that will eventually benefit the members.
In the pipeline as well is the restructuring of calamity and housing loans of the borrowers, that will be implemented once the green light is given by the Palace. Unlike its counterpart, the Government Service Insurance System, the SSS, under its existing charter, has no authority to condone or offer amnesty and/or restructuring to members. Thus, when calamity strikes, it takes a while before SSS can provide such a service. This is among the reasons behind the move to amend the pension-fund’s charter that still pends in the Senate.
Meanwhile, we heard from the grapevine that former Finance Secretary Margarito Teves may be named to chair either of the two state-pension funds, the GSIS and SSS. The SSS position has been vacant since the non-renewal of the service contract of Amado Valdez mid-February this year.
Prior to his departure, I bumped into Mr. Valdez at the Tower Club. Taking it easy after a day’s work and wait for the traffic to ease, Mr. Valdez was game and, with a little prodding, participated in the “open mic night” at the Baron’s Bar. With gusto, he belted not one but three songs- the old classics ‘A Portrait of Your Love,” “Who Can I turn to” and “The Nearness of You.”
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