Make benefits equal for all retirees
The Inquirer published on May 1, 2017, two items that indicated the current administration’s concern for soldiers.
One item reported that a “new pension system for soldiers” is being considered by the Department of Finance, Department of National Defense and the Department of Budget and Management. It quoted Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez as saying that this new pension system has to be legislated.
In a public hearing conducted by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV last year, which I attended as a representative of the Philippine Hospital Association, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that pension funds for retired soldiers are provided in large part by the annual General Appropriations Act. Finance Secretary Dominguez said that one of the options under consideration is the incorporation of the soldiers’ pension in the GSIS.
It was also pointed out that the General Appropriations Act provides many other retirement funds.
The other item was a letter from a retired general thanking President Duterte for the release of disability pension funds last September. The
soldier-retirees are indeed very lucky that the current administration is showing such care and concern for them.
Heartened by this concern, we, the retirees from the private sector, invite, call—and beg for—the attention of the proper government departments to the plight of many of us.
Specifically, under Republic Act No. 7699 (Portability Law), a number of retirees are denied, by the Government Service Insurance System, certain benefits given to other retirees under other retirement laws, namely:
1. the annual cash gift released at year-end;
2. the right to a pension increase;
3. the “milestone bonus” for retirees who reach the ages of 90, 95, 100.
The GSIS deprived retirees of these benefits, supposedly pursuant to The Portability Law, through GSIS Board Resolution No. 177 and No. 187, which were promulgated in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
It must be noted that RA 9994 (Expanded Senior Citizens Act) was approved by Congress on Jan. 27, 2010, and signed into law by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Feb. 15, 2010. This law requires the periodic review of pensions and the continuance of the benefits and privileges given by the GSIS, SSS and Pag-Ibig; and “to ensure their continuing responsiveness and sustainability, and to the extent practicable and feasible, (these) shall be upgraded to be at par with the current scale enjoyed by those in actual service.” The benefits include the cash gift, right to get increase in pension and the milestone bonus.
Therefore, the government has the responsibility to enforce the observance of RA 9994 over and above the GSIS resolutions.
In the interest of justice and equity, let there be equality in pension benefits. In their prime, the retirees contributed a lot to society; they also deserve to enjoy enough benefits in their sunset years.
Make equal the pension benefits for all retirees!
MAFEO R. VIBAL, vice president-external affairs, Philippine Association of Retired Persons, [email protected]
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