The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization has endorsed for plenary approval a measure lowering the optional retirement age of government workers to 56 from 60.
The consolidated bill, which was approved on Wednesday, seeks to amend Section 13-A of Republic Act 8291 or the Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997.
ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, one of the authors of the bill, urged fellow lawmakers to immediately pass the measure for its swift enactment into law.
“Since the 16th Congress, we have been pushing for a lower optional retirement age of public- school teachers. In fact, during the 17th Congress, this bill had already passed on third and final reading at the House of Representatives,” Castro said.
“Now, the government must heed the strong clamor of its employees, the civil servants, who dedicated their time and life to serve the nation, for the option to retire at an earlier age in order for them to enjoy their retirement benefits for as long as possible,” she added.
According to Castro, public- school teachers have consistently raised their demand to be given the choice to retire earlier during formal and informal consultations nationwide.
“It is imperative that Congress listen to these government workers who have devoted their lives to honing the minds and nurturing the hearts of our youth, in spite of receiving meager salaries, working in underfunded schools and doing additional, usually unpaid, miscellaneous tasks,” she said.
“While the 65 years old mandatory retirement age remains, government employees should be given the freedom to retire earlier, especially those who are suffering from ailments and are in need of intensive medical attention,” Castro added. “This measure will not be detrimental to the state work force as most government employees actually prefer to stay in service for a longer time even working up to 65 years old, the mandatory retirement age, in order to ensure maximum retirement benefits.”
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., also an author of the bill, said the retirees can then enjoy a better quality of life through their pension and retirement benefits at an earlier age.
“VAT exemptions, mandatory membership in the government’s health-care system, and discounts for medicine, basic necessities, and service will all come earlier, reducing the physical toil on our citizens to keep working just to reach the retirement age and avail themselves of the benefits of being a senior citizens,” he said.
Also, Garbin said the lower retirement age ultimately helps the bureaucracy, as it hastens the turnover of government positions to younger professionals, making way for infusion of fresh blood in public services.
“Countless cases involving public officers emphasize the need of a younger work force in the government to inject new perspectives and insight into the government’s ranks,” he said.
This bill, Garbin said, also creates more employment opportunities for those seeking employment in the government and a chance to serve the country.
Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila