P26.1 B ALLOTTED  FOR PENSIONS  OF  VETERANS, MILITARY RETIREES  IN '07 BUDGET

MANILA, OCTOBER 6, 2006
(STAR) By Paolo Romero - The government has earmarked P26.1 billion for veterans’ and retired soldiers’ pensions next year, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday.

Andaya also said that for the past five years, P113.4 billion was spent for the pensions of former servicemen.

The projection by the Department Budget of Management (DBM) pegs at P290 billion the cost of paying veterans’ and retired soldiers’ pensions from 2007 to 2015.

"This is a big requirement but it is an obligation we have to keep to those who had fought for our flag," Andaya said in a statement.

"The national government’s budgeting for soldiers’ pensions has never been contingent on the financial status of military-run pension fund," he added, referring to the soon-to-be-scrapped Retirement and Separation Benefits System (RSBS) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

He said government has provided monthly pensions for former military personnel despite the fact that their salaries, while in active service, were never deducted for pension contributions to be remitted to the national government.

This is unlike the case of civilian government employees whose monthly pay is subjected to mandatory deductions as their contributions to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), he said.

Next year’s pension allocation for ex-military men, he said, is made up of P10.89 billion for "retired military personnel" and P15.26 billion for "veterans."

Numbering about 104,458, retired military personnel are those who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56 or served at least 20 years in uniform.

They get a monthly pension equivalent to 85 percent of the current basic pay of the rank they held while in service, plus longevity pay, which is equivalent to up to 50 percent of the present salary of that rank.

"Veterans" are those who fought in World War II, while retired military personnel are those who reached the age of 65. Both veterans and retirees receive an "old age" pension of P5,000 a month.

"Thus, under the law, a retired colonel, upon reaching the age of 65, will receive, on top of his monthly regular pension equivalent to 85 percent of a brigadier general in active service — as regular pension is computed based on the next highest rank of the retiree — P5,000 a month in ‘old pension,’" Andaya explained.

The pension of veterans and military retirees who die are passed on to their spouses, who shall enjoy these benefits, including the "double pension" of military retirees, until their death or remarriage.

Citing the records of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), Andaya said the country’s veterans number 272,284 as of July. Of this number, 56,393 were World War II veterans and 104,754 were spouses of World War II veterans. The rest were military retirees who reached the age of 65.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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