The biggest coalition of labor unions in the country, lambasted the recent government ill action to weaponize the Social Security System (SSS) law for the purpose of arresting a teachers' union officer and activist professor from the University of the Philippines (UP)-Diliman.
The professor, identified as Melania Flores, of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) was cited for allegedly failing to remit SSS contributions for her kasamabahay, in violation of Republic Act No. 8282 (now RA 11199) or the Social Security Act. This resulted in the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) labeling her as a "most wanted person" and seeking a warrant from Judge Maria Gilda Loja-Pangilinan of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 230 last September.
Nagkaisa Labor Coalition asserts that the government's actions are an abuse of power and an attempt to silence critical voices in society. The coalition calls for an immediate end to the misuse of the SSS law and urges the Marcos administration not to use a welfare law to silence trade union leaders and activists.
"The government's actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for basic human rights and the rule of law. Using the SSS law as a weapon to arrest individuals for political reasons is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms," said Nagkaisa Labour Coaltion.
The arrest of the trade union activist happened at the heels of the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission to the Philippines at the end of January that cited authorities for long standing cases of killings, arrest on trumped up charges, red tagging and other forms of violence against trade union leaders and organizers.
Nagkaisa demands that the government respect the rights and freedoms of all individuals, including trade unionists, activists and academics, and uphold its obligation to promote and protect human rights in the Philippines.
Assuming there was a violation of the SSS law, the coalition holds that the authorities should not have violated due process and the UP-DILG Memorandum of Agreement, which prohibits the police forces from entering the UP campus without the knowledge of the university authorities.
While the SSS has records of big employers who failed to remit millions if not billions of pesos in SSS contributions for hundreds of thousands of workers, with the companies’ officers or board of directors having pending arrest warrants, the government has not taken action against them. Instead, the authorities are focusing on a trade union activist professor who allegedly failed to remit SSS contributions for her domestic worker. Nagkaisa raises concerns about due process and equal protection under the law.
Lastly, this statement does not condone non-remittance of SSS contributions. Nagkaisa calls for all employers to remit their employers. Under Republic Act 11199, failure or refusal to comply with the provisions of the SSS law by the employer is punishable by a fine ranging from PHP 5,000.00 to PHP 20,000.00 or imprisonment for a minimum of 6 years and 1 day and a maximum of 12 years, at the discretion of the court. In case of failure to register employees or deduct and remit SSS contributions, the penalty shall be a fine of not less than PHP 5,000.00 nor more than PHP 20,000.00 and imprisonment for not less than 6 years and 1 day nor more than 12 years. In case the employer deducted the SSS contribution but failed to remit it, the imposable penalty shall be that provided under Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code on Estafa, which provides imprisonment not exceeding 20 years.
- Nagkaisa! Labor Coalition