House of Representatives

Velasco files bill adding P54.6B to military pension fund this year

Rambo Talabong
The bill proposes to get the money from unappropriated funds at the National Treasury

Headlined by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the leadership of the House of Representatives filed House Bill No. 9149, proposing to add P54.6 billion to the military and uniformed personnel (MUP)’s pension fund for 2021.

This was announced by Velasco’s office on Thursday, March 25, the same day the bill was filed.

The bill proposed that the billions of pesos needed to prop up the cash-strapped pension fund come from unappropriated funds kept by the National Treasury for 2021.

“The passage of this supplemental budget will ensure the final settlement of the long-overdue pension differential of retired MUPs, who have faithfully served the country while they were on active duty,” Velasco said in a statement on Thursday.

Velasco filed the bill together with Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, and House appropriations committee chairman Eric Go Yap.

Why does this matter?

The pension of the retired military and uniformed personnel has for years been underfunded. This situation has caused the delay in the release of billions of pesos worth of pension claims.

Velasco’s bill comes after Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor flagged the P20 billion slashed in the 2021 budget for military pensions. From P172.9 billion it became P152. 9 billion.

This slash affected the release of delayed pension payments from 2018, said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Velasco’s bill, however, skirted the longterm problem of the cash-strapped military pension fund. The festering issue is that government would need to spend trillions for retirees from its coffers because soldiers and police do not contribute for their pension.

A bill has been filed by Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, hoping to end this situation. However, the bill remained pending with the House committee on government enterprises and privatization. The counterpart measure at the Senate is pending at the committee level as well. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.