27 February 2016

Is She Really The Highest Paid SSS Commissioner?

SSS Commissioner
Is there nepotism and favoritism at the country's social protection agency?

The administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II is under fire right now after political bloggers and election watchers discovered that his former chief-of-staff, Eliza Antonino, has a seven-figure salary as commissioner of the Social Security System (SSS).

This came after a bill that seeks to raise the monthly pensions by PhP 2,000 a month for retirees was vetoed by President Benigno Aquino III because it was deemed not financially sound and yet the officials are receiving millions of incentives.

"Regarding the photo being circulated online, it is not true that she receives that amount. Executive Order No. 24 prescribes rules to govern compensation of Board of Directors/Trustees in government-owned and/or -controlled corporations and government financial institutions. It is clear that the maximum a member can receive (for Class A GOCCs) is PhP 960,000 per year. Anything above that is remitted to the GOCC," Roxas said on his Twitter account.

In Roxas' Facebook campaign page, the presidential aspirant’s camp wrote: "Don't believe everything you read in social media. Enemies of good governance will fabricate stories just to discredit PNoy, Mar Roxas and their allies. Read, ask and research."

Antonino’s hefty earnings came to light after a table of the alleged salaries received by SSS officials went viral. It suggested that Antonino, with a salary of PhP 5.99 million in 2014, earned more than SSS chairperson Emilio de Quiros Jr. who was shown to have earned only PhP 2.65 million.

A check with the Commission on Audit (COA) showed that De Quiros actually earned PhP 6.8 million, higher than Antonino's salary of PhP 5.99 million.

Official COA reports also showed that Antonino, as SSS commissioner, earned PhP 1.3 million in 2011; PhP 1.244 million in 2012; PhP 2.373 million in 2013; and then a big jump to PhP 5.997 million in 2014.

Roxas said Antonino, who graduated with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration in 2000, was a successful businesswoman in the food and beverage industry before joining SSS in 2010. However, it did not elaborate on the issue that there is no information on this business experience in any of Antonino’s online resumes, including the one on Bloomberg.

Also, Roxas has not emphasized that between 2004 and 2010, Antonino served as Roxas’ chief of staff while he was still a senator.

Since she was appointed SSS commissioner in 2010, she represented the pension fund in the boards of Philex Mining Corp. and Union Bank of the Philippines.