Groups protest at SSS office, say pensioners not consulted on Maharlika Wealth Fund

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 7) — Labor and youth groups on Wednesday trooped to the Social Security System (SSS) office to denounce the pension agency for agreeing to invest in the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund without consultation with its members.

Protesters from the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) staged the rally at the main office of the SSS in Quezon City.

“[T]he sovereign wealth fund is a misnomer,” said SPARK national coordinator John Lazaro.

“The 1987 Constitution declares that sovereignty resides in the people. But in this type of sovereign wealth fund, the Filipino people, even more so the contributing members of the SSS, were not consulted,” Lazaro added.

BPM Chair Ka Leody De Guzman also said the speculative capital is risky for those who are dependent on their pensions, especially those who are unemployed and affected by calamities, diseases and death.

Ang pondo ng SSS ay mula sa dugo, pawis at luha ng milyong-milyong mga manggagawa. [N]angangamba kaming malustay ito sa klase ng pamumuhunang nais paglagakan ng Maharlika Investment Fund”,” said De Guzman.

[Translation: The SSS fund comes from the blood, sweat and tears of millions of workers. We fear that it will be wasted on the type of investment that the Maharlika Investment Fund wants to invest in.]

Meanwhile in a separate statement, urban poor group Kadamay urged the government to instead spend government resources on social services.

Nakakabahala na talaga na ilang buwan na ring patuloy na lumolobo ang presyo ng mga bilihin pero wala pa ring maayos na programa ang gobyerno n’ya sa tumitinding kahirapan,” said Kadamay Secretary General Mimi Doringo.

[Translation: It is really alarming that the prices of goods have continued to rise for several months but the government still does not have a proper program for the worsening poverty.]

Doringo added that the continuous misprioritization of public funds and national fiscal resources poses an additional threat to the lives of poor Filipinos.

Earlier, other groups also rejected the Maharlika Wealth Fund, citing loopholes in the proposal and dire consequences to Filipinos.

READ: Groups protest vs proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund 

SSS President and CEO Michael Regino has backed the proposal for different government financial institutions (GFIs) to come together under the Maharlika Wealth Fund.

"These are both an opportunity for us to be able to use our funds na collectively with other GFIs para mapataas pa natin ang returns ng pera in-invest natin [to increase the returns of the money we invest]," Regino said at a House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries hearing last week.