By Wilnard Bacelonia, September 21, 2023; Philippine News Agency

MANILA – Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2444 seeking to lower the optional retirement age of government workers from 60 years old to 56 years old was sponsored on Wednesday to the Senate plenary by the Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation, together with Committees on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises and Finance.

The bill, once passed into law, will amend Section 13-A of Republic Act No. 8291 or the Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997.

In his sponsorship speech, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said the committees have seen during the public hearings and meetings the desire of government workers to be given the option to retire earlier, as well as lowering the optional retirement age will not be to the detriment of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Ang edad na limampu’t anim, ay maihahambing nga sa edad ng pagreretiro ng ating mga sundalo at pulis. At tinitiyak po ng inyong Komite, na ang lahat ng ito ay mga konsiderasyon na inaral at tinimbang, upang makalikha ng isang panukalang didinggin ang tinig ng ating mga lingkod-bayan na hindi naman ikapapahamak ng (The age of 56 can be compared to the retirement age of our military and police. Your Committee assures that these considerations that were studied and balanced to create a bill that will hear the voice of our government workers and will not endanger the) GSIS,” Revilla said.

He said no less than the GSIS data shows that even now, most of those who avail of the optional retirement wait for an average of two years after they become eligible.

“We can thus safely assume that still, a very little percentage will avail of this option when we amend it — leading to no other conclusion but that the actuarial life of GSIS will very minimally be affected, if at all,” Revilla said.

Citing a Civil Service Commission (CSC) survey, Revilla said the Philippines has one of the oldest retirement ages pegged at 60 years old and 65 years old compared to other ASEAN countries which goes as low as 40 years old.

He also cited a World Bank report saying Filipinos have a life expectancy of 72 years old which is also lower than their ASEAN neighbors like Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand who could still reach 76 to 84 years old.

“With this data on hand, indeed, we have to do something so that those who wish to enjoy their retirement earlier and have a longer time to spend with their family and loved ones, will have that option,” he said.

The CSC has repeatedly expressed its support for the bill citing that “there is a need for a better retirement plan for the public sector that is responsive to the current economic situation and would honor the government’s civil servants’ selfless service to the nation.”