Local News

SSS disburses P7.2-B for 13th month pensions
The Social Security System (SSS) has announced the release of a total of P7.2 billion for this year’s 13th month pensions which SSS pensioners would receive in time for the Christmas season.
SSS Officer-in-Charge of Benefits Administration Division Normita M. Doctor said SSS pensioners under the Social Security (SS) and Employees’ Compensation (EC) programs, except those covered for partial disability whose pension duration is less than 12 months, are entitled to the 13th month benefit. Recipients of dependents’ pensions, such as the minor children of pensioners, will also receive a corresponding 13th month benefit.
Along with the early release of 13th month pensions, by the end of this year pensioners will also get their regular monthly pension for December in accordance with their contingency date. For instance, a pensioner who retired on July 19 will get his retirement pension for the month on December 19,” she said.
Doctor said the agency released the funds and checks for 13th month pensions to its partner banks and to the postal office, respectively, as early as November 14 so that pensioners can get their additional year-end benefits directly at their personal bank accounts or through checks sent via registered mail.
Patterned after the 13th month pay given to workers in time for Christmas, the SSS 13th month pension is equal to the regular monthly benefit received by SSS pensioners. We are happy to continue granting this extra benefit, which is a cherished yearly tradition of SSS that started back in 1988,” she said.
SSS requested its partner banks to release the 13th month benefit ahead of the disbursement schedule for the regular December pensions. It also asked the Philippine post office to prioritize the delivery of the 13th month pension checks so that SSS pensioners will enjoy their cash benefits before Christmas.
The duration of check delivery depends on the recipient’s mailing address. Usually, it takes three to five days for Metro Manila and nearby areas, five to eight days for faraway Luzon provinces, and eight to 10 days for Visayas and Mindanao,” Doctor said.
Over 99 percent of more than two million SSS pensioners are registered under the SSS Pension Payment thru-the-bank Program, which offers them a faster means of receiving their monthly cash benefit through direct disbursement to their designated bank account.
Meanwhile, less than one percent of SSS pensioners, typically those who reside in far-flung areas, requested SSS to instead send their regular and 13th month pensions as mailed checks due to certain conditions such as the lack of automated teller machines in their immediate vicinity,” she said.
About 1.2 million retirement pensioners under the SS Program accounted for 63 percent or P4.5 billion of the total 13th month SSS pension disbursements for this year. SSS also disbursed P2.4 billion for SS and EC death pensions and P224.5 million for SS and EC disability pensions.
The pension fund recently welcomed its newly-appointed President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel F. Dooc, who served as Insurance Commissioner prior to his current role in SSS.
Arnell Ignacio, Assistant Vice President for community relations and services department of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), today said PAGCOR plays an important role in the government’s agenda for change as he enumerated the undertakings of the government owned and controlled corporation. 
“The primary role of PAGCOR is to produce funds for the government,” according to Ignacio in a press briefing in Malacanan on Wednesday, Nov. 30. 
“There are a lot of other things that PAGCOR is doing aside from gambling. The core thrusts of PAGCOR are gaming, licensing and social responsibility,” explained Ignacio.
He said PAGCOR recently turned over Php 5 billion to the socio-civic fund of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
“When we turned over the Five Billion, his original plan is for the resurrection of the Botikang Bayan. But whether this fund will be used for the Botikang Bayan or for drug rehabilitation, its up to the President to decide,” said Ignacio.
The PAGCOR official also said that from its gross income, five percent immediately goes to the franchise tax and fifty percent goes to the National Treasury.
Another undertaking of PAGCOR is its feeding program and according to Ignacio, this was launched and started last month in Pampanga where it will benefit several schools and about 13,000 students. 
The gaming official also said that during the recent Davao bombing incident last September, PAGCOR immediately turned over Php 5 million to the government of Davao. Also, the Php 5 million reward incentive given to Olympic medalist, Hidilyn Diaz, came from PAGCOR.
At the same press briefing, Kris Ablan, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary for Policy and Legislative Affairs, issued a clarification regarding the news spreading online that the Improvised Explosive Device explosion yesterday that struck the advance party of the President did not really happen but was just made up in order to have a reason for the government to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
“Yes, that remains to be a conspiracy theory. So we ask citizens to always verify the news that they receive in social media,” said Ablan.  
Ablan also gave a statement regarding the ongoing protest coinciding with Bonifacio Day.
“We respect the right to assemble and freedom of speech of all citizens and so Malacanan respects the protest actions being organized today, Bonifacio Day. And of course, (President Duterte) has instructed the authorities to exercise maximum tolerance. So we hope that those who are protesting today that they peacefully assemble,” said the Assistant Secretary. PND
                 House OKs Pacquiao as tourism
poster boy 

Members of the House committee on tourism have approved a proposal to designate Filipino boxing icon Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao as the official endorser of the Department of Tourism (DOT) in its campaign to make the country a premier tourist destination.


During the committee’s hearing on the DOT’s plans and programs for 2017, Rep. Enrico Pineda (Party-list, 1-PACMAN) proposed that the DOT designate Pacquiao as the agency’s spokesperson because of the boxing champion’s tremendous popularity here and abroad.


“Sen. Pacquiao’s international stature is a big boost to the tourism industry of the country. His endorsement would create a lot of impact, especially in the social media,” said Pineda.


Pineda further said the senator from Sarangani might lend his services to the DOT for free.


Supporting Pineda’s proposal, Rep. Aurelio Gonzales (3rd District, Pampanga) moved to make the boxing champ the official DOT endorser.


The committee chaired by Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte) unanimously approved Gonzales’ motion. 


Also during the hearing, officials of the DOT and its attached agencies namely, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) briefed House members on the state of the country’s tourism industry and their tourism plans and programs.


Torres-Gomez said the committee takes cognizance of the issues and concerns that are vital to the promotion and development of the country’s tourism industry.


Torres-Gomez cited there are more than 40 House bills filed seeking to declare the various areas in the country as tourism zones and destinations.


 “These are very important to House members for the development of local tourism in their respective districts. We will certainly take immediate action on these measures,” said Torres-Gomez.


She said among the measures of national importanceare bills seeking better assistance, services, and protection to international tourists visiting the country; granting travel tax discount or exemption to groups such as  senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), official country representatives to international sports events, academic conferences, and beauty pageants; and seeking the imposition of environmental fee or green fee for the preservation, conservation, development, and protection of the country’s national heritage sites and treasures.


Torres-Gomez urged committee members to look into the extent of the implementation of laws passed by Congress pertinent to the tourism industry. She said another concern of the committee in its next hearing is the status of the development of roads and access to tourism sites.


Rep. Elisa Kho (2nd District, Masbate) proposed more DOT advertisements showcasing Filipino culture and values. 


Kho also expressed concern about the DOT’s  plan to change the tourism slogan, “It’s more fun in the Philippines,” which has already gained popularity abroad, especially among Southeast Asian countries.


Rep. Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A Teacher) said the DOT should just build on the gains of the present advertising campaign  instead of shifting to a new slogan.


Cortuna further said the DOT should identify potential tourism areas that can be developed to boost tourism, raise revenues, and contribute to the country’s economy.


Pineda pointed out that international TV advertisements of other countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, and India  are basically generic in terms of promoting their country and more about showing the places being promoted.


Rep. Christopher “Toff” de Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan) proposed to the DOT to keep track of the tourism assets and make sure they are profitable.


De Venecia asked the DOT to provide the committee with the list of tourism assets that are available and indicate which ones are making or losing money so that appropriate action can be taken.




the noblest motive is the greatest good for the greatest number