AFTER nearly three decades, disabled veterans can now look forward to getting a higher monthly pension as the Senate ratified on Wednesday the reconciled bicameral conference committee report on the measure that will standardize and upgrade the benefits due to military veterans and their dependents.
“Para sa mga beterano nating mga sundalo at kanilang pamilya, malaking tulong sa kanilang arawang gastusin ang pagtaas ng kanilang buwanang disability pension. Ang kasalukuyang natatanggap nila na may halaga na lang na P287 ay hindi sapat kahit man lang para makapanood sila ng sine. Paano pa kaya kung ipambibili nila ito ng kanilang gamot? Kaya makatwiran lamang na ibigay natin ang nararapat na benepisyo na utang natin sa kanila,” said Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, principal author and sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1480.
Estrada, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, said the ratification of the bill rationalizing the disability pension of veterans will correct the “grave injustice” and accord disabled veterans the “dignity, respect, and care that they truly deserve.”
The disability base rate will be raised to P4,500 from the current P1,000 or an increase of 350%. Those presently receiving P1,700, which has the highest disability rating, will be receiving P10,000 or an increase of P8,300, equivalent to 488%.
The P500 monthly pension for the spouse and each unmarried minor child will be adjusted to P1,000.
Only minor differences were made in reconciling the disagreeing provisions of SB 1480 and House Bill (HB) No. 7939, which will amend Republic Act (RA) No. 6948, as the Lower House agreed to use the Senate version as the working draft, Estrada said.
Incidentally, both Houses proposed similar rates of increase, he added.
Also, Section 1 of the Senate version was adopted, which simplified and clarified the provision on who will be entitled to the Total Administrative Disability pension of P1,700. This will cover the veterans who have reached the age of 70 but have not been receiving any disability pension.
This is the second bill principally authored and sponsored by Estrada to be ratified by the Senate in the current 19th Congress, the first of which is the bill amending the rules on the fixed terms and tours of duty of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and other senior military officials.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed RA No. 11939, or the Act Further Strengthening Professionalism and Promoting the Continuity of Policies and Modernization Initiatives in the AFP, which amended RA 11709 last May 17.