House leaders led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday filed a bill calling for the allocation P54.6-billion supplemental budget for the pension and gratuity of former members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and other uniformed personnel.
Velacso, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Joseph Paduano and House appropriations committee chairman Eric Go Yap filed House Bill No. 9149, which seeks to appropriate the said amount to augment the government’s Pension and Gratuity Fund (PGF) under the 2021 national budget.
Under the bill, the fund would be sourced from “any funds in the National Treasury, not otherwise appropriated”.
It shall then be released to the AFP, as well as Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) “in accordance with budgeting, accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.”
The bill states that the proposed budget shall be available for release and obligation from the date of its effectivity “until fully spent”.
“The passage of this supplemental budget will ensure the final settlement of the long-overdue pension differential of retired MUPs, who have faithfully served the country while they were on active duty,” Velasco said in a statement.
The filing of the bill came weeks after Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor accused the House leadership of diverting P20 billion from the pension fund to pork barrel funds, and not for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
Yap quickly denied the claim, hitting instead the administration of Velasco’s predecessor, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of slashing P70 billion from the PGF when the 2020 budget was passed.
He explained that the House, Senate and the executive department agreed to realign the P20 billion for COVID-19 response.
Defensor is a known supporter of Cayetano, who was replaced by Velasco in a controversial power struggle in the House last year. After Velasco assumed the speakership, Defensor was stripped of his key post in the chamber.