In the pursuit for a more adequate monthly pension for our veterans, the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines (VFP) pushed for the Senate’s approval of Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1766, which seeks to increase the Old Age Pension of Senior War Veterans from Php 5,000 to Php 20,000.
On 4 July 2018, the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security conducted a public hearing to deliberate proposed bills on pension hike. During the hearing, PVAO Administrator Ernesto Carolina expressed the agency’s support, as it is what our veterans deserve for their sacrifices during the World War II. He has also reiterated the fact that House Bill No. (HBN) 7525, the Substitute Bill for HBN 270 and the counterpart bill of SBN 1766, was already approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives. He also emphasized that this measure must be given priority consideration as there is a steady decline in the number of senior war veterans due to their advanced age.
In the previous hearing conducted on 4 March 2018 by the House Committee on Appropriations, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has affirmed the availability of funds to back the bill. Likewise, Administrator Carolina also assured the Committee that if the proposed bill be enacted into law by this year, PVAO has enough savings to support its initial implementation.
Veterans leaders of veterans organizations were also present during the hearing, headed by VFP President Manuel Pamaran. The veterans leaders expressed their strong support and appealed for the immediate passage of the bill, emphasizing that they are already old and sickly.
Veterans’ champions Senators Gringo Honasan and Ping Lacson gave their commitment to the enactment of SBN 1766. Senator Lacson, being the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Accounts and Finance Sub-Committee, assured that the needed funds to support the continued implementation of the increase in pension of senior veterans will be included in the 2019 General Appropriations Act.
To date, the most recent pension law enacted is Republic Act No. 6948, passed in 1990 and amended by Republic Act No. 7696 in 1994. This law only provides Php 5,000 for Old Age Pension which is clearly not sufficient anymore for the many needs of our veterans. The Congress version HBN 270 was filed by Rep. Geraldine Roman on 30 June 2016 and was first heard by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare on 7 February 2017. On 14 March 2018, the House Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles, approved the said bill at final reading.
As of June 2018, there are only about 6,074 living senior veterans. The proposed increase in Old Age Pension to Php 20,000 will require a funding of Php 1.18 billion for FY 2019. This will diminish in succeeding years as this will only be awarded to living senior veterans and shall not be transferable to any family member and/or dependent of the veteran. Republic Act No. 6948 as amended by Republic Act No. 7696 was enacted more than 20 years ago. It is high time to increase the benefits that our senior veterans deserve. #