Go: Fiscal stability, welfare of men in uniform priorities in pension reform bill

Published June 20, 2021, 10:49 PM

by Ben Rosario

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Sunday, June 20 assured retirees and those in active service in the military and other uniformed services that the proposed pension reform law he is pursuing will maintain a good balance between ensuring fiscal stability in government and that of their own welfare and of their dependents.

Go said Senate Bill 1419 which seeks reforms in the pension system will not apply to the current batch of retirees. Only those who will join active service after the effectivity of the law will be affected.

Go underscored the need to balance the welfare of military and other uniformed personnel, and their dependents, while addressing the possible adverse financial impact of the military pension system based on current projections.

The administration senator said he and President Duterte will do everything to protect the interest of the men in uniform that is why the pension reform measures is being strongly pursued.

“Kaya natin sinusubukang masolusyunan ito ngayon dahil ayaw naming madehado ang ating kasundaluhan kung magiging iba ang direksyon ng mga susunod na administrasyon pagdating sa pension reform (That is why we are trying to address this now because we do not want our soldiers to be on the losing end if the next administration will pursue a different direction when it comes to pension reform),” Go explained.

He stressed the need to address the problem before it gets out of hand and adversely affects the welfare of both pensioners and the citizens.

Go’s version of the proposed pension reform law for military and other uniformed personnel, as indicated in Senate Bill No. 1419 which he filed in 2020, seeks to attain fiscal stability and sustainability of their pension system without prejudice to current pensioners and those in active service.

“Nais ko klaruhin — suportado ko ang pension reform para maiwasan na maging isang financial disaster ito in the long-run. (I want this clarified – I support the pension reform in order for us to dodge a financial disaster that could happen in the long run)” he said.

However, Go said he does not want the legislative measure to adversely affect the current military retirees and those who are still in active duty who are looking forward to a better deal for their pension benefits.

In his 2017 budget message, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the pension reform should be pursued “in view of the ballooning budget burden where the total cost of the pensions of retired soldiers will exceed the compensation of those in active service.” Government will be needing an estimated P800 billion annually for the next 20 years to pay the pension of the military and uniformed personnel (MUP), according to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), based on the existing scheme.

In line with this, Go emphasized that his proposed measure aims to only affect new entrants and not those in active service or those who have already retired.

Go expressed his opposition to other proposed versions of the MUP pension reform that have provisions considered detrimental to current pensioners and those in active duty.

“Hindi ‘yan lulusot sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte kung mababawasan ang kasalukuyang pension ng mga sundalo at mga nagretiro na.(If it will reduce the current pension of soldiers and those who have already retired, it will not get President Duterte’s nod),” he said.

The senator, then, stressed the urgency to enact the measure now, saying that the current administration will always uphold the welfare of its uniformed personnel.

“This is a way to address the bloating pension system and the impending financial disaster without sacrificing the interests of those who are already in active service or those who are already retired,” he said.

Go noted that there is no final version yet as the bills are still being deliberated upon in both houses of Congress. He assured that he will continue to fight for the welfare of uniformed personnel and his office will always take into consideration the concerns of those who may be affected by any proposed legislation.

“I am proposing a win-win solution. As a lawmaker, I am always ready to listen and work towards what is beneficial to the people I represent in the Senate while crafting legislation that can further protect and promote the welfare of Filipinos,” he stated.