President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. must be cautious in deciding whether to adopt or not the proposal by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno to review and possibly restructure the pension system of the men in uniform serving in the military and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
We find it extremely dangerous for his administration if he considers the Diokno proposal “hook, line, and sinker.” The President will definitely be courting disaster for his administration.
Yes, he must not forget what happened during his father’s time. It was largely the lapses of Marcos Sr. in dealing with the affairs of the men in the service of the armed forces that contributed to his downfall.
While we believe that the Diokno proposal is one surefire solution to help address the potential financial derailment of the Philippine government, it is somewhat myopic just to consider changing the pension plan of the men in uniform as the ONLY option.
In fact, we can say that it was only after the salaries and other benefits of our soldiers and policemen were upgraded during the previous administration that talks of government destabilization were never heard of.
The reason is simple, of course. After all, who would want to “rock the boat” when everyone on board is satisfied with the amenities offered in the ride?
But at this early stage in the discussion of the Diokno proposal, men in uniform who are either in the active service or already retired have expressed somewhat synonymous reactions. And this is the potential disgust to the administration that will deprive the military and the police of what they already enjoy as provided by law.
To give the Filipinos an idea of how the Diokno proposal to restructure the pension system of the soldiers and policemen, we are printing here the full text of the letter sent to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno by Ariston V delos Reyes, VADM, Armed forces of the Philippines (Retired).
Dr. Benjamin E. Diokno
Secretary, Department of Finance, DOF Bldg, BSP Complex
Roxas Blvd., Manila
Dear Secretary Diokno,
Please allow me to respond to your assertions on the MUP pension system.
- You said that the pension scheme is ridiculous because personnel in the active service can optionally retire after completing 20 years of service and receive a pension for 50 years because they live up to 90.
The pension scheme is not ridiculous but your assertion is. That pension benefit that you refer to was vested by law. Pension after 20 years of service, once approved by the competent authority, is the norm even in foreign militaries. Also, living up to 90 is a blessing and pensioners must not be faulted for it. Discipline explains it.
- You compared military pension to those of civilians, where military men do not contribute to it while civilians do. Your comparison is wrong. The military is a service where one’s life is the capital, 24 hours a day, in war or in peace. In fact, it is not termed pension in the AFP retirement law. It is called Military Retirement Pay. When they retire, they are only placed in the Retired List and may be recalled back to active service during war or other national contingencies. Also, almost all militaries around the world, including those in the USA, do not contribute to their pension.
- You said that pension indexation, where the retiree’s pension increases when the salary of those in the active service increases, must be stopped. Why pick only the military or the MUP? Indexation is also the case for pensioners in the judiciary (judges and prosecutors), the Constitutional Commissions (COMELEC, COA, CSC), and the Energy Regulatory Commission. This is also the practice in most foreign armed forces. Further, we waited decades before the full implementation of the indexation, and it was only a couple of years back when the indexation was finally completed.
- You said the MUP pension scheme is unsustainable and will lead to the fiscal collapse. Again, why pick on us only? As Finance Manager and as the highest paid government official, it is your duty to explore all available options to solve the problem. You can start by returning most of your unconscionable P41.81 million annual salary, allowances, and bonuses, including those of your BSP colleagues. The law fixed your salary only at P150,000 monthly or P1.8 million annually, yet you received P41.81 million.
You can also stop the pork barrel allocations of lawmakers and go after the corrupt officials in all the departments as well as revenue agencies BIR and the Bureau of Customs. Further, improve the business climate in the country so that your touted investors in your many foreign travels may finally come and do business in the country.
- You said we receive huge pensions compared to SSS and GSIS and that the scheme stipulates we get pensions based on the rate of the next higher rank when we retire. Again no point of comparison between military and civilian retiree entitlements. Also, you must have missed the gargantuan pensions aside from huge salaries and allowances plus golden “parachutes” of high SSS and GSIS officials. Much more for you and your colleagues at the BSP who all belong to the top ten highest paid government officials but only doing minimal work in the comfort and safety of your fully-air-conditioned suites or offices. Further, the MUP pension is very small when compared to the international armed forces standards.
You brought out the elephant in the room, Mr. Secretary. Go then, do your job, without opening your mouth too much, and without picking a fight with us retirees. Even in the twilight of our lives, we fight our battles well.
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