The Philippine National Police owe its retirees an explanation.
A few weeks ago, six months of pay differential out of the total of 32 months still owed by the government was released to PNP retirees. The problem is that not all police retirees got the long- awaited money. Only a portion of the retirees were able to receive the extra Christmas bonus of sorts. There seems to be people who are more equal than others.
When former President Gloria Arroyo increased the pay of active police and military personnel, the pay rise for retirees was delayed for a couple of years. This is what is now being paid by the government in tranches but as we can see, it is a very slow process. Many have already died and if we extrapolate further, it will probably take another five years for the 26 months remaining to be fully paid. To compound the problem, the PNP leadership did not even bother to issue an explanation or say when the rest of the differential pay will be released.
This thing has never happened before. The Department of Budget and Management has always released funds to pay retirees in full. There were stories circulating before the release of this fund that only those members of the PNP retirees’ organization who have paid their yearly dues will be included. It is not known whether this is the case or whether this is just fake news.
At the very least, the PNP leadership should come out with an explanation to avoid rumors and other conspiracy theories from spreading. It is interesting to note that the AFP have settled all back pay differentials for all AFP retirees while the PNP has still 26 months left. I am hoping that it is simply lack of funds preventing the release of the funds and not the PNP using the money for other purposes as it has happened before. Six months’ pay differential may not seem much to many but with prices of all goods like medicines going up, even a small amount can go a long way to help retirees who need maintenance medicines just to stay alive.
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Although the approval and trust ratings of President Duterte have gone down, the numbers are still the envy of any politician anywhere in the world. President Trump for instance has an approval rating of about 36 percent and a disapproval rating near 60 per cent. Russian President Putin whose approval rating has consistently been high also took a hit when he increased the retirement age of Russian men to 65 years and women to 60 years. Since the life expectancy of Russian men is 66 years, it is understandable why the men are protesting against Putin’s pension reform. They will not have much time to enjoy retirement. Chinese leaders of course, do not have to worry about approval ratings.
With all the problem that the country is currently experiencing, it is remarkable that President Duterte can still generate high approval ratings. To top it all, majority of Filipinos support his war on drugs even if thousands have been killed in the process, most of them poor. This is perplexing. Have we changed that much in values?
In spite of the disapproval by the Catholic Church of government methods not to mention the objections of human right groups, people are still lauding the President even in the absence of any independent, verifiable and credible survey that could tell the public the real state of the drug problem. We have no accurate picture whether we have substantially lessened the problem or not. The public is simply relying on what they read in the papers and the pronouncements coming from the President himself.
Anyway, it is not expected that we will be seeing any policy change in the drug war anytime soon. On the other fronts, like the economy, response to disasters, his ongoing war with Senator Trillanes, peace and order and foreign affairs, his grade—if we have to be objective about it—has got to be mixed. Very good in some and mediocre at best on the others. On the economy for instance, even if our economic managers continue to tell us that inflation is not that big of a problem, the fact remains that the high prices of goods are beginning to hurt the pockets of people. This in the end will be the one that will determine whether the President will stay up there in his last three remaining years or will go down to earth because the economy is beginning to stall.
Right now, exports are flat, our balance of payments deficit is ballooning, and the international reserves are down. The peso is also one of the worst-performing currencies in the region and foreign investment pledges have gone down. All these cannot be ignored and swept under the rug. Yet, the government still wants TRAIN 2 passed and implemented instead of holding it in abeyance to give the people time to recover from what TRAIN 1 has done to their purchasing power.
Most countries in the region have consistently avoided increasing the price of gasoline to avoid inflation and protests from the public. Yet, the government went ahead and increased the tax for gasoline which is now the highest in the region. The President always had the ability in the past to bounce back in his approval rating but if the sky rocketing prices will not start stabilizing real soon, it is going to be hard for the President to recover.
Still, the President should take his 75-percent approval rating any time.