PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — Nearly a hundred inmates from Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF), a low security prison, are set to join the microsavings program of the Social Security System (SSS) called “AlkanSSSya,” using their earnings from handmade souvenirs sold to tourists to pay their monthly contributions.

SSS Vice President for Management Services and Planning Division May Catherine C. Ciriaco and IPPF Superintendent Richard W. Schwarzkoph Jr. will lead the inauguration of the AlkanSSSya unit during ceremonies at the IPPF compound at Brgy. Iwahig, Puerto Princesa City on Thursday, August 15.

The IPPF is home to some 700 male inmates, with about a hundred of them earning from making handicrafts such as miniature galleons, photo frames, key chains, accessories, jewelry boxes and unique bamboo souvenirs called “rainmakers” that mimic the sound of rain when tilted. The items are sold in shops inside the prison compound and in various areas around Palawan.

“The AlkanSSSya program helps inmates become active SSS members even while serving their jail terms. Inmates who are existing SSS members but have ceased paying contributions may now also reactivate their SSS membership with as little as about P10 per day, or at least P312 per month, under this program,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio S. de Quiros, Jr. said.

De Quiros said 92 out of the 100 personal coin slots in IPPF’s AlkanSSSya unit are already taken, and SSS Palawan has assigned an account officer to count and collect the inmates’ SSS savings before the 10th day of every month. Participating inmates will put in their first AlkanSSSya savings in the presence of IPPF and SSS officials during the ceremonial dropping of coins as part of the program’s launch.

The IPPF is the second organization in Palawan to participate in the AlkanSSSya program, after more than 100 members of the Honda Bay Boat Owners Association, Inc. (HOBBAI), an organization of pumpboat operators that ferry tourists during island-hopping tours, joined on July 12, 2013. HOBBAI is also the first boat owners association in the country to participate in the AlkanSSSya program.

“Among the driving forces behind the success of Palawan tourism is the diligence of workers such as pumpboat operators and even the IPPF inmates, whose handicrafts have made their prison an unlikely, yet popular, shopping place for souvenirs in Puerto Princesa City,” de Quiros noted. “With the AlkanSSSya program, they will reap the fruits of their hard work through SSS benefits as well as salary, housing and educational loans for themselves and their loved ones.”

The AlkanSSSya program was designed to make payment of SSS contributions convenient and affordable through the use of secure cabinet-like “piggy banks” with personal coin slots. Over 21,500 informal sector workers from a total of 284 workers’ associations nationwide have already joined the AlkanSSSya program at present.