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A good time to review

The end of each year, semester and quarter is usually a good time for profit-oriented companies to review their financial performance. If done objectively and competently, these financial reviews confirm the companies’ successes and unmask their failures.

After reviewing emerging opportunities and threats, they then proceed to complete the rest of their targets or start working on other more attainable objectives.

In addition to these reviews, companies that have become national institutions use their anniversaries and foundation days, to trace back their roots and origins, and reexamine their reasons for being.

For my senior citizen friends and me, we like most the way the United States Social Security Administration celebrated the 75th anniversary—not of its establishment—but of the signing into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the Social Security Act.

That occasion on Aug. 14, 2010 was used by President Barack Obama to call on all Americans to ensure that they “continue to preserve this program’s original purpose in the 21st century,” which, he reminded, was “to protect ordinary Americans ‘against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.’”

He narrated that:

“Our Nation was entrenched in the Great Depression. Unemployment neared 20 percent, and millions of Americans struggled to provide for themselves and their families. In the midst of all this, the Social Security Act brought hope to some of our most vulnerable citizens, giving elderly Americans income security and bringing us closer to President Roosevelt’s vision of a Nation free from want or fear.”

His rallying message was clear and simple:

“Together, we can give our children and our grandchildren the same protections we have cherished for decades, and in doing so, lead our Nation to a brighter day.”

President Obama—by then two years into his presidency—committed his administration to strengthen America’s “retirement system and protecting Social Security as a reliable income source for seniors, workers who develop disabilities, and dependents.”

He realized that after a lifetime of contributing to their country and its economy, “Americans have earned this support.”

He then concluded that:

“My Administration is dedicated to safeguarding Social Security’s promise of retirement with dignity and security.”

We could not help but compare America’s remarkable experience with our more difficult and unfinished establishment of social security.

We have also our champion of social security—President Ramon Magsaysay—who once declared that his “concern for the common man is not merely sentimental or emotional. It is a hard fact that a nation cannot survive without the safe foundation of a prosperous and contented majority of its people.”

He then echoed this by declaring that:

“We believe what is good for the common man is good for the whole country. Every policy of our administration has therefore been directed to his welfare. We have anchored our national destiny to the common man.”

His birthday—the 108th—would again be observed quietly on August 31 and would be highlighted once again with the presentation of an elite group of outstanding Asians who have been selected for their greatness of spirit and transformative leadership as this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Awardees. 

It is also the day before the 58th anniversary of the Social Security System, which President Magsaysay established when he signed into law on June 18, 1954 Republic Act 1161 or the Social Security Act of 1954.

He was able to enact this law within 6 months after taking his oath of office as president on Dec. 30, 1953. However, before he could fully implement it, the nation’s largest labor unions and employer groups had strongly opposed it.

Ironically, the United States Foreign Operations Administration Mission in the Philippines and the American Chamber of Commerce were the ones that led in opposing it, citing the country’s lack of readiness to implement what they called a premature social security program.

In their assessment:

“In the present stage of economic development, such a program would place an undue burden on both employers and workers.”

President Magsaysay had no choice but to defer its full implementation and allowed his SSA of 1954 to be amended first. Unfortunately, he perished in a plane crash on March 17, 1957 before the amended version could be passed into law.

Vice President Carlos P. Garcia took over as president and pursued its passage, successfully signing it into law on June 21, 1957 as Republic Act 1792.

Again, there was clamor to defer once more its implementation but President Garcia was resolute in opening SSS to the public on Sept. 1, 1957.

For unknown reasons, SSS celebrates the day it first opened to the public as its anniversary and neither the date of its establishment nor those of the passage of the two social security legislations.

This unconventional celebration of its anniversary shouldn’t really matter much if only SSS recognize that its reason for being is neither to be the national lending institution nor to be the national funeral benefit fund—but to be the national pension institution without being “an undue burden on both employers and workers.”

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