Duterte orders early release of pension for AFP retirees
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As the Philippines marks the 75th anniversary of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the early release of pension for retirees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Duterte issued the directive to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of National Defense (DND) during a speech delivered at Mt Samat National Shrine in Pilar, Bataan on Sunday, April 9.
Duterte ordered the two agencies to expedite the early release of the AFP retirees' pension credentials for fiscal years 2008 to 2013, amounting to P6.421 billion.
A technical working group has been formed by the budget and defense departments to implement the directive, the DND said in a press release later Sunday.
"The procedure of vetting the rightful beneficiaries as well as their entitlement is part of the implementation process and is not in conflict with the President's order to expedite payment," it said.
Once vetting is done, the benefits will be released to the beneficiaries' accounts, the DND added.
Gratitude to veterans
In his speech, Duterte also praised veterans for their service to the country, and said that Filipinos owe them a deep debt of gratitude.
The Day of Valor marks the annual commemoration of the Fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942, and the bravery of Filipino and American soldiers during the campaign against invading Japanese forces during World War II. (READ: FAST FACTS: Araw ng Kagitingan)
"We owe nothing less than this solemn pledge for all those who sacrificed the most for our country's freedom. Our veterans went through one of the darkest chapters in world history for the benefit of our generation and generations after us," he said.
"We must never forget that we owe them a deep debt of gratitude," he added.
The President also assured the surviving veterans and their families that the government will prioritize their entitlements in honor of their service.
Veterans and their dependents can get free healthcare at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and 152 veterans-accredited hospitals. The government has also worked to settle the backlog of disability pensions and subsidize the education of more than 2,500 dependents of veterans under the Iskolar ng Bayan program.
"These entitlements do not compare to the sacrifices that you have made. But we want you to know, our nation [and] our people are grateful to you for what you have done and we will do better," Duterte said. – Rappler.com