The SSS row: A reason to believe

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Four Social Security System (SSS) officials stand accused of insider trading, that is, using their own money, they (except one of them) allegedly bought a few shares of stock from SSS contacts or brokers that allegedly yielded them a consolidated profit of about P500,000.

An SSS commissioner who made the accusation believes that the four are legally and ethically prohibited from doing so, since, using SSS brokers, they should trade stocks for and on behalf of the SSS alone, which employs them.

SSS Chairman Amado D. Valdez, a former law dean and seasoned legal practitioner and SSS President and COO Emmanuel F. Dooc, a lawyer and much-awarded insurance man, upon receipt of the complaint against the four, lost no time in sending them formal notices to explain.

The two SSS heads also started the investigation process by organizing an investigating committee that will determine whether or not the complaint is valid, or whether or not the four officials should be exonerated.

The formal investigating process cannot be rushed. The four officials are entitled to enjoy their Constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence. They cannot just be condemned without trial or deprived of the opportunity to get their lawyers of choice.

Preliminary remedies had, however, to be done and were done. The four had been stripped of their usual functions and reassigned to the office of the chairman under the latter’s close control and supervision while they are under investigation. Safekeeping of relevant documents has been assured. Two are said to have tendered their resignations for one avowed reason or another.

As of this date, 3 of the 4 have not yet submitted to the committee their counter-affidavits, which should contain their defenses.  They were given a few more days from today to submit them.

Meantime, SSS employees all over the country led by their labor union president, Amorsolo Competente, have gone on social media and other outlets to extend their moral support to the four officials. The employees contend that the four are honest and honorable men who do not deserve the trial by publicity and flak they have been receiving since day one when the controversy erupted.

Not to be outdone, Congress and traditional media joined in the row by calling for the condemnation of the four officials and prompt investigation of whether or not the SSS coffers have been touched or compromised at all by the alleged activities of the four.

The truth is no SSS money has been touched or been compromised. 

The other truth is that the present set of SSS commissioners, led by Valdez and Dooc, both Duterte appointees, will not tolerate any shenanigans that will compromise SSS funds.

Commission meetings are all duly recorded, their minutes taken and their reading will reveal how earnestly the two leaders have embarked on a resolve to keep intact and unsullied the integrity of the funds, and to increase them through wise investments in real estate, stocks, government securities and equities.

Valdez and Dooc have even gone out of their way to increase the SSS funds by, among others, fund-boosting measures, going around the metropolis and some parts of the country, encouraging employers to report their employees for coverage, pay their overdue SSS premium contributions and threatening them with arrests and lawsuits should they fail to.

It was Commissioner Pompee la Viña, Duterte’s former media campaign chief, who unearthed the alleged anomaly.

As chairman of the powerful Investment Oversight Committee, it is part of his task to recommend to the Commission en banc intelligent-investment measures and direction of SSS-surplus funds and see to it that investment activities of SSS officials are all done above board and singularly geared toward the funds’ care and augmentation.

There is no truth at all to the speculation coming from a few quarters that a percolating political quarrel or maneuvering is obtaining among the SSS commissioners.

Through the stewardship of Dooc and the guidance of Valdez, life and service to members go on at the SSS.  Differences of opinion and perception have been relegated into the background in the holy names of public interest and public service.

Before making any conclusions or suggestions regarding the charge against the four SSS officials, it is the better part of discretion and fairness for everyone to await the outcome of the ongoing formal investigation against them.

But by and large, the current row notwithstanding, the public has still a reason to believe in the lofty goals of, and the men and women behind, the Social Security System.



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