As GRP webmaster benign0 has pointed out, the discussion surrounding the Philippine Social Security System (SSS) pension hike bill, and President Benigno Simeon (BS) Aquino’s vetoing of it, must be framed properly:
Indeed, the debate should revolve around the facts surrounding this question. Did Congress properly evaluate the viability of the proposed benefit hikes from the context of the on-going financial position of the SSS? And if, indeed, the SSS could have afforded those hikes, did President BS Aquino do the right thing vetoing the bill?
I would like to take it a step further and approach this discussion by mentioning one very important question that BS Aquino and his administration have yet to answer:
If the P2000 proposed hike is supposedly unacceptable, what amount is?
Surely, if BS Aquino’s number crunchers really did their homework, and have looked it through thoroughly (napag-aralan na daw nang husto), there exists a value between greater than 0 and less than 2000 that could have been agreed upon. At this point, any increase would have been welcome.
Where’s the counter-proposal figure from Malacanañg? Apparently, instead of approaching the pension hike as a negotiation, where every involved party has the potential to come out a winner, BS Aquino chose to approach it instead with binary decision making, and as a zero-sum game, where there is a winner and a loser.
In the corporate world, negotiation is a necessity in order for your company to get the most optimal deals when dealing with both clients and vendors. The ideal outcome of a good negotiation is one wherein all parties walk out gaining something; this is called a win-win situation. Parties who don’t negotiate often wind up with deals wherein they pay more for something than they need to. Worse, entities that persistently make decisions in binary, i.e., only yes and no, will most likely not only end up losing out on potentially good deals, clients, and vendors, but will also most likely lose their businesses, and/or jobs.
Inevitably, concessions have to be made and some things may have to be given up in order to get what one wants. Furthermore, sometimes not all parties are necessarily willing to yield what the other parties are asking for in order to get what they want, but this is a topic for a separate discussion.
In this case, had BS Aquino been a bit shrewder, he could have approved the hike – though the amount might have been different – and used it as currency for the candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) in the upcoming elections. Instead, what the LP candidates can expect to get is backlash, all because of a decision widely perceived as “cruel and heartless”.
Then again, Filipinos probably should not have expected BS Aquino to have even consider, much less be skilled in negotiating. His upbringing as part of ahaciendero clan has imbibed him with the belief that he should be able to get anything he wants at all times, and that when he puts his foot down, there is no room left for discussion. And as Senator Antonio Trillanes has explained, BS Aquino has never had a real job.
Aquino apologists may contend that negotiating is beneath and beyond the president and the scope of his job, respectively. What kind of public servant will not fight tooth and nail and explore all possible alternatives to grant feasible benefits to the citizens that he is put in a position to represent? Yes, the president is STILL a public servant.
The answer: a Filipino one. Especially if his name is Aquino.
As columnist Ben Kritz has pointed out in his recent Manila Times column, BS Aquino has, for the most part, clearly not understood that there is a difference between the titles of “President” and “Emperor”. And because of that, he may have just committed political suicide.
That BS Aquino seemingly treated this whole thing as a binary decision, and not immediately considered any other value in the area between 0 and 2000, is perhaps the most disappointing and infuriating aspect of this issue. But then again, he is just being consistent.