Government paying P4M to ‘ghost’ veteransBy Dona Z. Pazzibugan |Philippine Daily Inquirer
The government has been paying about P4 million a year to 24 war veterans and retired soldiers and their dependents, who, it turned out, are no longer entitled to pension.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), through its Finance Center, recently discovered that 24 pensioners in Regions 1 and 2 (Ilocos and Cagayan Valley, respectively) have either already died or lost their Filipino citizenship, or their dependents have reached the maturity age of 21.
The closure of these 24 accounts alone would save the government P3,953,737.20 for this year, according to the AFP.
In line with efforts to cleanse the pension payroll, the AFP Finance Center sent out two teams last month to Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, Isabela and Cagayan to distribute checks and at the same time validate the 1,969 AFP pensioners who have opened their accounts there.
During the validation process from March 16-22, an eight-man team which distributed checks in Cagayan and Ilocos Norte discovered that 12 accounts illegally continued to receive pension.
Eight pensioners were found already deceased, two were no longer Filipino citizens and two dependents were already more than 21 years old.
The government saved P2,469,988.92 this year from the closure of these 12 accounts.
The second team which covered Isabela, Ilocos Sur and Abra also discovered 12 fraudulent pension accounts that would have received a total of P1,483,748.28 this year.
It found that eight pensioners have died, three have lost their Filipino citizenship and one dependent has already reached the maturity age.
The government’s arrears to its military pensioners have reached billions of pesos.
Since 2007, the AFP said it has weeded out about 10,000 illegitimate pensioners through painstaking clearing operations.
Pensioners Business Center
As the nation observes Veteran’s Week from April 4-11, the AFP announced the plan to construct a P5-million AFP Pensioners Business Center in Camp Aguinaldo.
The AFP said it has in its payroll almost 113,000 pensioners among World War II veterans, retired soldiers, widows and dependents.
The facility will be put up near the AFP Finance Center and the Pension and Gratuity Management Center in Camp Aguinaldo.
“Since many of our war veterans are growing old and ill, they will need extra care and comfort whenever they transact with military offices,” AFP Chief of Staff General Jessie Dellosa said in a statement.
He said pensioners can transact more comfortably, especially during the rainy season, once the new facility is finished.
He said the proposed center can accommodate almost 350 persons who can line up in an orderly fashion at the transaction windows.
The center will have medical clinics, toilets, vending machines, misting fans and television monitors.
A medical team will always be available for emergencies.
“Our former soldiers have spent their years fighting bravely for the sake of the nation. The improvements to our pension system and facilities are just small gestures of appreciation for their sacrifices and selfless service for the country,” Dellosa said.