MANILA, Philippines — The proposed Bayanihan 3 law in the House of Representatives, meant to provide cash aid or ayuda for all Filipinos, will include a P54.6-billion fund for retired soldiers, a proponent revealed yesterday.
Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo confirmed that the supplemental budget to augment the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF) for retired military and uniformed personnel (MUP) is included in the Bayanihan to Arise As One Act or Bayanihan 3 bill, which was approved in the committee level earlier this week and set to be passed upon resumption of session later this month.
The proposed P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3 is supposed to provide assistance to Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including a P2,000 ayuda for all 110 million Filipinos, in two tranches.
Quimbo, an economist by profession, explained that the PGF supplemental budget was included in the bill upon request by the Department of Budget and Management to make up for the P172.9-billion pension and gratuity fund meant to partially fund the payment of the 2018 pension differences for MUP by P20 billion – an amount that was diverted by Congress to COVID-19 response programs in the 2021 national budget.
“This was the funding cut in the 2021 national budget that we need to restore for the benefit of our retired soldiers.That’s inevitable and we really need to repay that,” she said.
The deputy minority leader believes that this funding for PGF is related to government’s pandemic response “in a way” as it will be “a big moral booster to our soldiers who are also frontliners in our fight against COVID-19.”
The supplemental budget for PGF was proposed in House Bill 9149 earlier filed by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and other House leaders.
The amount will be used for the payment of pension arrears of retired MUP of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).
It shall be released by the DBM to the Department of National Defense for the AFP; Department of the Interior and Local Government for the PNP, BFP and BJMP; Department of Transportation for the PCG and Department of Environment and Natural Resources for NAMRIA, “in accordance with budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.”
Quimbo is hopeful that with the support of the economic managers, the Bayanihan 3 bill will also be passed by the Senate.
She said the measure is feasible, adding that the funding will come from fiscal measures, particularly increase in dividend rate of government-owned and controlled corporations from 50 percent to 75 percent and borrowing from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas just like in the Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws – as agreed upon by proponents and economic managers.