By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Iloilo 5th district Rep. Raul “Boboy” Tupas asked the government on Wednesday to tap and mobilize some of the reservists of the uniformed armed services, graduates of Merchant Marine courses, and licensed or employed security guards to augment the military and police force assisting the local government units (LGUs) during the enhanced community quarantine.
The chairman of the House Committee on National Defense and Security said his proposed Reserve Force can assist the government’s full implementation of the ECQ.
“I recommend to the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases), DND (Department of National Defense) , and DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) the mobilization of some of the reservists of the uniformed armed services, particularly those who have already graduated from college and have been working,” he said.
“The selected activated reservists can be tasked to help local government units cope with COVID-19. They can assist in logistics, checkpoints, area containment, and public affairs,” he explained.
Tupas said the IATF, DND, and DILG should also consider tapping graduates of Merchant Marine courses and licensed/employed security guards as “additional activated reservists.”
“The DOH and IATF need all the help they can get. These reservists are among the specially-trained people who can be gathered and deployed to perform important roles to protect our citizens,” he said.
Tupas earlier filed a bill seeking to encourage professionals to join the Reserve Force of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He filed House Bill No. 6077, the proposed “Reservist Employment Rights Act,” which seeks to prevent and prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of rendering military service to the State.
“This proposed measure aims to strengthen the employment rights of members of the Citizens Armed Forces or the Reserve Force of the AFP. It ensures non-discrimination in terms of employment, promotion, and reinstatement of reservists who rendered military service, whether for training or mobilization,” Tupas said.
HB 6077 grants employment rights to reservists with the following conditions:
– Reservists who perform military service are entitled to their original position or similar position without loss of seniority rights or diminution of pay;
– Military service shall not be considered a break in the employment for retirement purposes or granting of benefits; and
– Reservists cannot be required to use earned or entitled service incentive leaves for leave of absence in the performance of military service.
Tupas said under HB 6077, every reservist is entitled to a leave of seven days with pay per year for military training or military activities.
This shall be on top of applicable leaves of the reservist-employee, he said.
“Reservists who suffer from disability due to military service shall not be denied reintegration if such employee can still perform the essential functions of his original employment,” Tupas said.
HB 6077 provides that in cases where reintegration is impossible or unreasonable, subject to the determination and approval of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the reservist shall be entitled to at least three months’ worth of basic salary or to a separation pay of one month basic salary per year of service, whichever is higher.
The bill mandates the mother agency of the reservist to continue to remit the reservist’s premium contribution to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Pag-Ibig, and Philhealth.
Under the measure, reservists shall have the option to pay their Social Service System (SSS) contribution as a voluntary paying SSS member to avoid any gap in the payment.
“The proposed bill not only benefits reservists who opted to render military service, but will also encourage professionals to join the AFP’s Reserve Force. If this bill becomes a law, it will strengthen the Reserve Force which can be called and mobilized when threat to the country’s peace, security, and sovereignty is imminent,” Tupas said.