MANILA – Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday filed a measure seeking PHP54.6 billion as supplemental budget to augment the Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF) for retired military and uniformed personnel (MUP) under the 2021 national budget.
Velasco, along with Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, and House appropriations committee chair Eric Go Yap, filed House Bill 9149, which seeks to allocate a sum of PHP54.6 billion out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, as additional funding and budgetary requirements for the 2021 national budget.
The bill states that the amount will be used for the payment of pension arrears of retired MUP of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), as well as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA).
“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.
The amount shall be released by the Department of Budget and Management to the Department of National Defense for the AFP; Department of the Interior and Local Government for the PNP, BFP, and BJMP; Department of Transportation for the PCG; and Department of Environment and Natural Resources for NAMRIA, “in accordance with budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.”
The bill’s explanatory note cited that Congress passed Joint Resolution No. 1 authorizing the increase in base pay of MUP in government.
The authors said that President Rodrigo Duterte signed the joint resolution in recognition of the critical role of MUP in maintaining national security and peace and order and their exposure to high-risk environments in the performance of duty.
The joint resolution also suspends the indexation of the pension of retired MUP with the base pay increase of those in the active service. The suspension was lifted on Jan. 1, 2019, resulting in the 2018 pension differential.
They, however, noted that the 2018 pension differentials for MUP remain outstanding as of the current fiscal year.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor has earlier blamed Velasco for the decrease in the budget of the 2021 PGF by PHP20 billion.
Yap came into the defense of Velasco by saying that there were no irregularities in passing the 2021 General Appropriations Act, saying it was deliberated upon by both the House and the Senate, with consultation with the Executive Branch, particularly the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
He said the PHP20 billion was a buffer fund, which the DBM and the legislature all agreed to realign in favor of budget items meant to address the coronavirus pandemic, including the procurement of vaccines and personal protective equipment of medical front-liners.
He said the supplemental budget proposal would help absorb the fund deficiency brought about by the PHP70-billion budget cut made by the previous House leadership in the 2020 budget. (PNA)