Include review of institutional charters in MUP pension reform
This is in response to the call of President Marcos during his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July 24 for the enactment of the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension reform bill.
The MUP pension reform has been a persistent issue, especially after Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and his team zeroed in on the pension of the retirees and veterans, labeling them as “elephant in the room” that might be the probable cause of a fiscal collapse if the issue is not addressed.
We all agree that Diokno’s proposal that MUP personnel contribute to their pension like other government employees is a sustainable solution.
Among the agencies currently classified as part of MUP but are not directly providing armed security services is the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria), which Diokno failed to mention. As a matter of fact, there are other existing civilian government law enforcement agencies that were not considered part of MUP, such as officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Bureau of Customs (BOC), and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) who are allowed under law to bear arms and wear uniform but don’t fall under the category of a uniformed military and police service since they are not considered “common goods.”
There is a need for radical, painful organizational soul-searching within the Philippine bureaucracy in order to address the ballooning MUP pension. Agencies like Namria may be reclassified by amending their respective charters as armed civilian institutions, similar to NBI, BOC, and BI that do not belong to the MUP category. The respective pensions of retirees under these civilian institutions can be handled immediately by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
The 1987 Constitution recognizes the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as the country’s only security and law enforcement organizations. However, the AFP and the PNP organization should not be spared from streamlining as part of the MUP pension reform bill. Some support services within the AFP and PNP that are not directly related to actual law enforcement and national defense such as the health and hospital service personnel, including veterinarians and special service (athletes), should be removed from the qualified MUP beneficiaries.
The budget for the AFP and PNP pensioners should be taken out from the respective annual budget and placed in a dedicated MUP pension management system, preferably under the management and supervision of the GSIS so as not to repeat the AFP Retirement and Separation Benefits System debacle, if and when these recommendations from an organizational point of view will be implemented by the current administration.
Proscoro Ervin Mundo, Ph.D.,
University of the Philippines Open University