Social Security System (SSS) offices in the Western Visayas region have extended their resources to remote communities to enable residents in these areas to have easier access to social security services, including registering as members and updating their membership.

SSS Officer-in-Charge for Western Visayas Division Raul A. Casiano said SSS branches in Kalibo, Dumaguete, and Iloilo deployed Mobile E-Centers – or temporary SSS desks usually put up in far-flung areas – to make SSS services such as SSS registration, salary loan application, ID capture, member data change request, and status inquiry within reach of potential and existing members.

“We had set up Mobile E-Centers in the islands of Siquijor and Guimaras, and the cities of Bayawan and Passi from November last year to April of this year. With this project, we expect to see more active membership as well as improved collections,” Casiano said.

The deployment of mobile E-centers, which in total accounted nearly 3,000 transactions from said areas, is part of the SSS initiative to cover hard-to-reach and informal sectors, the official added.

“We will set up a mobile E-center in Siquijor again this coming September, which will be handled by our SSS Dumaguete branch,” Casiano said.

He said SSS also participates in the monthly “Gobyerno sa Baryo,” a joint program of the Aklan Provincial Government and Congressional District Office for the benefit of the province’s constituents in remote and rural communities.

As of April 2015, SSS members in Western Visayas inched up by 3.4-percent from 1.78 million in 2014 to 1.84 million, of which about 70 percent or 1.25 million are regular and household employees. SSS recorded about 351,384 self-employed members and 241,812 voluntary members.

“There is a modest increase in the number of self-employed and voluntary members which grew by 6.7 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively. So we want to focus on those sectors under the informal economy, considering the vast number of micro and small businesses engaged in crop production and active fishery activities around the area,” Casiano said.

Moreover, he noted that the thriving tourism, specifically in the Municipality of Malay, has prompted the SSS to closely monitor employment activities in the province.

“We have conducted a saturation drive for 11 days in Boracay this month to comb the area for erring employers and employees who are still not reported for SSS coverage. From that alone, we were able to compel around 250 employers with about 1,300 employees to register with the SSS.

The state-agency together with the Department of Labor and Employment, PhilHealth, Pag-IBIG and the Malay Local Government have recently inked a pact to strengthen the monitoring of business’ compliance with the SS Law in Boracay.

SSS is also meeting with local officials in Malay for the coverage of some 1,222 job order and contractual hires of the municipal government and barangay units.  “We hope to formalize our agreement any time soon,” Casiano said.

Separately, Casiano said SSS has collected P1.35 billion in contributions from Western Visayas since January 2015 or 7.6 percent higher from the P1.25 billion that were collected from January to April 2014. He attributed the improved collections to the increasing presence of SSS in the region.

As of date, SSS has 14 branches and eight service offices strategically located in the provinces of Antique, Aklan, Iloilo, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor.