SSS asked to release pandemic loan funds

A MINDANAO House leader on Tuesday urged the Social Security System (SSS) to release funds to their branches for pandemic loans, members’ benefits and other operational requirements.

In Resolution No. 1093, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said there are long lines in SSS branches of members and retirees applying for loans, and retirement, death, maternity, and other benefits, or remitting their premium contributions.

“People need additional funds to tide them over the raging health crisis,” Rodriguez, the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said.

Rodriguez said many SSS offices are unable to accommodate the long lines of loan applicants and other members transacting business with them due to lack of personnel and equipment.

This results in delays in the processing and release of loans and other benefits, he added.

As an example, Rodriguez cited the case of two SSS branches in Cagayan de Oro located in Barangay Carmen and Barangay Lapasan.

“Due to quarantine restrictions in previous months, people are now flocking in droves to these two branches to have their loan and benefits applications processed, resulting in lack of physical distancing, violation of other health protocols and physical suffering”, he said.

He pointed out that the reasons for the delay in the processing of applications “are the fact that there are only four computers in each branch for members to get their online Numbers and the lack of personnel - there are only five job order employees in the main branch in Carmen and three in Lapasan to handle more 200 applicants a day.

“In CDO, the applicants line up as early as 5am to get ahead of the long lines everyday. Many have to stand in the heat of the sun. The branches have to extend services up to 7pm to accommodate those who have been in the line for hours”, he said.

“Thus, there is a need for the SSS to provide additional funding for all their branches, including the two in Cagayan de Oro, for the hiring of additional personnel, payment of overtime and night shift pay, and purchase of additional computers and tents to serve as waiting areas so as not to make people wait under the sun,” Rodriguez stressed.

He said SSS branches should also be directed to extend their office hours up to 8 p.m. and to open on Saturdays. “This is the least SSS should do. The members are already adversely affected by the pandemic and they still have to physically suffer while applying for loans and benefits at the SSS branches”, Rodriguez complained.