Priority list guides PVAO’s payments of arrears

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With reference to Erlinda P. Villanueva’s letter (Inquirer, 6/16/11), we wish to reiterate the facts we cited in our earlier letters to her, particularly on the following issues: (1) the increase in Old Age Pension of her husband for the periods January-June 2001 and January-June 2002, and (2) the schedule of payment of Total Administrative Disability (TAD) Pension to non-octogenarian veterans and their beneficiaries.

May we stress that Sec. 2 of Republic Act 7696 states that the increase in Old Age Pension is on a yearly, and not monthly, basis. This means that yearly, the monthly pension will increase by P500. Since the provision of funds for RA 7696 was only ratified on July 1, 2001 as per Sec. 2 of RA 9137 (Supplemental Appropriations Act for 2001), the Department of Budget and Management did not provide funds for the increases for the periods of January to June 2001 and January to June 2002. Please note, however, that the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office continued to remit the monthly Old Age Pension at the rates of P4,000/month for January-June 2001 and P4,500/month on January-June 2002, respectively.

On the Total Administrative Disability (TAD) pension, the law which provided for TAD benefits (RA 7696) did not identify the source of funding; hence, no appropriations have been provided for this purpose. In view of the huge outlay required to pay the accumulated obligations, which has reached P25 billion, Congress conducted several hearings to find ways and means to fund this huge requirement. When P170 million was finally appropriated in the General Appropriations Act of 2010 to pay for TAD arrears, the Department of National Defense and the DBM came up with Joint Circular No. 2010-1, dated April 1, 2010, specifying that initial TAD payments shall only be made to living/surviving World War II veterans. Given the guidelines under this joint circular, the priority list for TAD payments has been set as follows:

1st Priority: Living World War II Veterans—P4,036,429,000

2nd Priority: Living Post-World War II Veterans 80 years old and above—P1,301,356,800

3rd Priority: Living Post-World War II Veterans 70-79 years old—P978,792,000

4th Priority: TAD Arrears for Eligible Deceased Veterans—P14,308,962,000

Total Remaining Arrears: P20,625,540,700

Based on this priority list, posthumous claims for TAD arrears will be paid only after all the accounts have been settled.

We would, however, like to assure Villanueva that the government continues to find ways and means to be able to pay all the TAD claims, including those made in the name of eligible deceased veterans.

We sincerely hope that we have satisfactorily satisfied Villanueva’s queries as we are one with her in praying that all pension arrears would finally be paid.

—RAQUEL A. CAJUGUIRAN,

chief, Claims Division,

Philippine Veterans Affairs Office,

Veterans Compound,

Camp Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, QC

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