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New military pension rules for new entrants only – senator

The Philippine Star
New military pension rules for new entrants only � senator
File photo shows a small military unit.
Philstar.com / John Unson, file

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go is standing firm that if finance managers intend to reform the military’s pension to avoid a financial disaster in the long run, it should only apply to new entrants or those who will join the military in the future.

“I, as a senator and vice chairman of the Senate defense committee, rest assured that any measure that I will push or support related to the military and uniformed personnel will always be for their betterment,” Go said in Filipino and English in an ambush interview after aiding residents in Quezon City over the weekend.

“Even if it’s just one vote from me, I will always fight for what is right and what will benefit the military and our uniformed personnel. I understand the concern of our finance managers, but let us not do this at the expense of the military,” he added.

President Marcos has called for a re-evaluation of the pension system for the military and uniformed personnel to avert a potential “fiscal collapse” and enable the government to save around P130 billion yearly, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

“If ever that they plan to reform the pension of the military to avoid an impending financial disaster in the long run, it should apply only to new entrants in the military so that they will know in the beginning what rules they need to follow,” Go said.

The senator further clarified that he is against the removal of automatic indexation in their pension and the proposal of imposing mandatory contributions on military personnel.

“I’m not in favor of this mandatory contribution; it’s like give-retract. It’s like they were given favor in 2018, when their salaries were doubled, their salaries were increased, and then now, they are asked to contribute. I’m not in favor of it,” he said, expressing his strong opposition over the proposal to require active military personnel to pay their mandatory contributions to the pension fund of the military.

Go stressed that during former president Rodrigo Duterte’s term, they doubled the salary of the military and did not want the existing pension to be affected.

“We should not change rules midstream… We should not change what we are accustomed to in the middle of things. You know, most of our military personnel, they are expecting what they will receive. Once they retire, some of them have loans, others have borrowed money, which are allotted for something, meant for their children, for their family. Their money have already been programmed,” he said.

In fact, Go himself suggested and helped Duterte in doubling the salary of military and other uniformed personnel at the beginning of latter’s term.

The senator was also assigned to ask lawmakers, even before he became a senator, to pursue this promise of the former president during the start of the administration.

Go also strongly opposes the removal of automatic indexation in the pension.

In the case of the pension fund of the Philippine military, automatic indexation refers to the regular adjustment of the pension benefits of retired military personnel along with the salary increases of active military and uniformed services personnel (MUP).

He argued that the military’s job is different from any other profession because they put their lives on the line for the country.

The senator remains firm in his support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police and other uniformed personnel.

He said policymakers must recognize their sacrifices and the benefits given to them are minimal compared to the sacrifices they have made for the country. ‘Fiscal hemorrhage’ Meanwhile, senators are working on the passage of a measure that will provide a unified system for separation, retirement and pension of the MUP to address the “fiscal hemorrhage” of government coffers.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said he and some of his colleagues are working on Senate Bill 284, which seeks to provide a unified system for separation, retirement and pension of the MUP, which was filed in July last year. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Michael Punongbayan

Estrada added that similar bills were introduced by Senators Sonny Angara and Bong Revilla Jr.

“These measures are pending in my committee on national defense and security and will be taken up when we resume our plenary work next month,” Estrada said.

“I, along with some of my colleagues, have filed proposed legislation to address the fiscal hemorrhage that the current pension system for military and uniformed personnel retirees is causing our government coffers,” he added.

The senator admitted a ballooning pension requirement for the MUP without viable funding sources.

“Indeed, we are facing a ballooning pension requirement without viable funding sources. The MUP pensions are way higher than the budgetary requirement for the base pay of active soldiers and policemen,” he said.

“It’s for this reason that we have laid down a proposal to provide a mechanism for our government to balance and sustain financial flexibility while also guaranteeing our men and women in uniform that the state can and will continue to provide suitable benefits and remuneration to them as there is a need to ensure and maintain a viable pension system,” he added.

Still on the table is the bill rationalizing the disability pension of veterans, and senators have just concluded the period of interpellation before they went on recess two weeks ago, according to Estrada.

“We prioritized this because as far as we are concerned, there is a need for pension reform for veterans who have acquired disabilities in the line of duty,” he said.

Meanwhile, Defense Senior Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. yesterday assured active and retired personnel of the AFP that proposed reforms on the MUP pension system are being carefully studied for the benefit of the country’s soldiers and other men and women in uniform.

The Department of National Defense said it recognizes the concerns of soldiers and retirees regarding the MUP pension system, and appeals for understanding as options for reforms are being carefully evaluated.

“We would like to give our assurance to our stakeholders that the government will always look after the welfare and livelihood of our men and women in uniform,” Galvez said.

“Proposed reforms to the MUP pension system are still currently being studied, while we also conduct consultations with active and retired uniformed personnel regarding the matter,” he added.

Galvez noted that the government is looking to adopt a more financially sustainable MUP pension system, which will be founded on sound financial solutions and application of actuarial science.

“The government’s economic team is undertaking financial simulations to determine our optimal option. Just like in the case of Republic Act 11709, we are doing our best to determine and address the unintended consequences that may arise from proposed reforms on the MUP pension system,” he said.

Galvez shared that Marcos is looking for creative ways to provide benefits for the country’s uniformed personnel in grateful appreciation of their service, as the country works toward its post-pandemic economic recovery.

“Thus, we are appealing to our stakeholders to be circumspect and understanding of those who are working on the issue, and support our efforts in seeking solutions that will be beneficial to all, especially for our national fiscal health,” Galvez said.

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