Villanueva eyes early retirement for state workers

Adjusting the optional retirement age for government workers will open up opportunities for the next generation of civil servants and allow retirees to enjoy the next phase of their lives, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate labor committee, asked the resource persons at Thursday’s hearing of the Senate civil service committee on the likelihood of staffing shortage should several bills seeking to lower the optional retirement age are passed into law.

“It’s good to note that proposals to lower the optional retirement age will not result in staffing shortage,” Villanueva said after Civil Service Commissioner Aileen Lizada said there was a high demand for government workers.

Lizada said that in one instance, there were about 200 applicants for a single vacancy they opened recently, which showed that there were a lot of people looking for jobs.

On the other hand, Villanueva sought from the representatives of the Government Service Insurance System the reasons often cited by government workers on why they remained in service until they reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.

The GSIS representatives said workers stayed until the mandatory retirement age because they needed to meet the 15-year service requirement to be eligible for a state pension. They needed the income to cover their basic needs and pay off debts, and they still wanted to work.

Villanueva reiterated that it was the duty of the government to design social security programs for its elderly population such as those in the civil service.

Given the requirements of tenure before being able to be eligible to state pension and their day-to-day needs, Villanueva pointed out that “we really must study further how to make optional retirement a reliable option for them.”

Villanueva filed Senate Bill 715 that seeks to lower the optional retirement age for teachers from 60 to 55 years. He cited a study that showed Filipino teachers retired at age 65 while their counterparts in most ASEAN countries retired at age 60.

“Let us give an opportunity to our teachers to enjoy their retirement while they are still healthy, agile, and strong,” Villanueva said.

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