Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Sunday, February 26, urged the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to allow elected officials and their staff to continue remitting voluntary contributions equivalent to 15 years so they can also qualify for a pension program.
Pimentel noted there is a glaring disparity between the term limits of elected officials and the minimum requirement to qualify for the government’s pension program.
“I appeal for our local officials and their staff who have served nine (9) years in government but cannot qualify for the pension program due to the 15-year minimum service requirement under Republic Act No. 8291,” Pimentel said in a statement.
“I am saddened to learn that there are so many elected officials and public servants holding temporary and co-terminus status on the national and local levels who would retire without a retirement fund and pension only because they have not met the 15-year minimum service requirement,” the senator lamented.
He said the discrepancy between the term limit of elected officials and the 15-year minimum requirement seems to disregard the service rendered by elected officials and their staff.
Section 13-A of RA 8291 states that a member who retires from the service shall be entitled to the retirement benefits provided that he has rendered at least 15 years of service.
But that provision of RA 8291, Pimentel said “is very unfair for government employees and elected officials who fall short of the minimum 15-year service required under the law.”
Because under the Constitution, he said local officials such as councilors, mayors, vice-mayors, governors, vice-governors, and congressmen can only be elected for three consecutive terms or a total of nine years.
On the other hand, senators are elected to a six-year term and can serve for not more than two consecutive terms or a total of 12 years. The President and the Vice President have a term of six years with no provision for reelection.
“At the grassroots level, it is the local chief executives and members of the council who oversee and address the welfare and interests of our citizens. Without their contribution, development and local commerce will not progress,” the senator noted.
“I think we can at least give them this consideration to compensate for this critical role,” he added.
He also pointed out that some of these officials and their staff even left their high-paying jobs in the private sector to join the government service.
“Kawawa itong mga empleyado na walang matatanggap na pension (How sad it would be for these employees who won’t be able to receive a pension). Is that how the government rewards them for their service?” Pimentel said.
“We should make public service an attractive career for those individuals, especially the youth who want to be involved in legislation and nation-building,” the lawmaker added.
Pimentel also said he is willing to sponsor a law should the GSIS need a legal basis to enable such a proposal.
“I hope the GSIS can look into it and find possible ways to implement that option for local public servants,” he appealed.