THE House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations has approved the funding provisions for House Bill 270 that increases the “old age pension” of Filipino war veterans.
The bill, otherwise known as “An Act increasing the monthly pension of senior veterans thereby amending Republic Act 6948, as amended,” was authored by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman.
If signed into the law, the measure will increase the monthly old age pension of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War veterans from the current P5,000 to P20,000. Provided, that these veterans do not receive pension from the Armed Forces.
“Our war veterans are literally a dying breed. There will be less of them with us as the years pass by and that’s why we need to pass this measure as soon as possible. Once our war veterans are gone, they are gone forever,” said Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, the panel’s chairman.
Nograles said veterans of World War II, Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea, and the Philippine Civic Action Group who are not eligible to receive retirement pensions from the AFP are only receiving an old age pension worth P5,000 per month and Total Administrative Disability pension amounting to P1,700 per month.
“The 300 percent increase in old age pension that’s being sought by the measure is a deserved benefit for our veterans. We should guarantee them and their kin a minimum livable pension in accordance with the times. It will relieve them a great deal when it comes to their burden of buying maintenance medicine and other essentials,” he said.
The proposed increase of old age pension is limited to the surviving “senior veterans” who are not receiving AFP pension. The old age pension hike shall be applied prospectively.
The bill defines senior veterans as those who took part in World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War. The surviving spouse shall continue to receive the P5,000 old age pension.
The total number of veterans covered as of December 2017 is 7,242 broken down to 7,069 World War II veterans and 173 PEFTOK and PHILCAG veterans.
Nograles said that in the case of World War II veterans, most of the beneficiaries of the measure are already over 90 years old. “They are already way past their golden years and the least the government can do is to make sure they are comfortable from here on out.”
The Philippines is one of 66 countries that fought alongside the United States during the Second World War.
With the proposed increase, Nograles said the total pension cost for the particular group of veterans would reach P1.501 billion per annum with a 25 to 35 percent attrition rate for World War II veterans.
“Whatever cost the government will incur as a result of this pension hike is worth it if it will show that we know how to take care of our own heroes,” Nograles underscored.
Funding requirements for the implementation of the proposed Act shall be charged against the current year’s budget of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office and thereafter the funding needed to fully implement the provisions of the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
The country’s war veterans are honored each year on April 9, which is the Araw ng Kagitingan or Philippine Day of Valor.