The Social Security System (SSS) has attracted thousands of informal sector workers to register or revive their active membership under a microsavings program that offers convenient remittance of contributions and ensures their access to affordable social protection. Called “AlkanSSSya”, the program currently has a total of 34 participating organizations that represent about 18,600 workers in the National Capital Region and Luzon.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. related the positive reactions of informal sector workers who joined AlkanSSSya through their workers association.

“Members said that joining the program made them feel more secure and they likened themselves to regular employees enjoying the same SSS benefits,” de Quiros said. “We specifically designed the AlkanSSSya program to fit their way of life and to make saving for monthly SSS premiums as affordable as only P10 a day.”

Metal safety boxes standing 1.5 meters tall with secure mini-compartments are installed in accessible locations to store AlkanSSSya savings before these are accounted for and picked up by an SSS collecting agent at the end of every month. One AlkanSSSya unit is assigned to every member who can drop in any amount daily until the required monthly contribution is completed. AlkanSSSya members are required to save at least P312 per month to meet the P3,000 monthly salary credit.

De Quiros noted that the present list of participating groups is mostly made up of tricycle drivers and operators associations, or “TODA,” that joined the “TrikanSSSya,” a program pioneered by the SSS Las Piñas branch in 2011 that served as foundation of the AlkanSSSya program. Among the AlkanSSSya’s targeted sectors are drivers and transport operators, workers in the direct selling industry, and market vendors.

“Providing social security protection to those in the informal sector is important to SSS. We have designated lanes in SSS branches for AlkanSSSya participants and closely coordinate with their officers to address their concerns regarding SSS coverage and benefits,” he explained.

The SSS has also drawn support from the government, with the Municipality of Bangued in Abra passing a resolution seeking SSS coverage of 4,200 tricycle drivers and operators registered in the Bangued Tricycle Franchise Regulatory Board through the TrikanSSSya.

The resolution, dated April 30, 2012, cited the “constant occupational hazard of daily exposure to pollution, weather elements and vehicular accidents” as reasons for pursuing social security coverage for Bangued tricycle drivers and operators through the TrikanSSSya program.

The agency will mark its 55th year on September 1, while the Main Anniversary Program will be held on September 3 at the SSS main office in Quezon City with President Benigno Aquino III as guest of honor. The state-run pension institution started operations on September 1, 1957.

De Quiros noted that this year’s theme, “Sa SSS: Kabuhayang Pinagsikapan, Seguridad Maaasahan,” highlights the importance of regularly saving part of workers’ income for social security protection to secure a bright future for them and their family.

“The theme reflects SSS’ renewed focus to reach out to those who need social security the most, such as overseas Filipino workers and informal sector workers who provide for their families’ needs through sacrifice and hard work. We want to help them save for their own future as well,” he said. – Sigfredo Ibay