Gov’t owes veterans, other pensioners P17B
The goverment owes P17 billion in administrative disability benefits to more than 80,000 pensioners, including war veterans and the surviving spouses, due to lack of funds.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office lamented that the welfare and well-being of the veterans were not being prioritized. At the same time, the legislature has failed to enact laws to upgrade the benefits of pensioners.
“We do not want to blame anybody for this. We just want the truth to come out, just the facts,” said Ernesto Carolina, PVAO administrator.
As of August, the government’s obligation in total administration disability pension arrears was P17.53 billion to some 83,346 beneficiaries, including living veterans, the surviving spouses of deceased veterans and other pensioners.
Under the law, a veteran who reaches 70 years old is deemed totally disabled and is entitled to a P1,700 monthly pension.
Under the law, the non-payment of the total administrative disability pension to pensioners may be a violation of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which guarantees “immediate and adequate care” to veterans and their beneficiaries.
The law mandating the payment of the total administrative disability pension was passed in 1994. However, the government only began paying this in 2010, leading to unpaid pension obligations worth P25 million in 2010.
The government began paying the pension to 28,993 World War II veterans in April 2010, covering the period of 2003 to 2009. The payment then was P4.1 billion which came from the PVAO’s reform dividends.
The payment was implemented using the Direct Remittance Pension Servicing System, which also purged invalid pensioners from the list.
The DRPSS facilitates payment through direct remittance to the pensioners’ bank accounts with PVAO-accredited banks and financial institutions, instead of the old method of sending checks by mail.
As of September 2013, the government settled P2.9 billion in outstanding pension arrears to living veterans, bringing the total payment to P6.9 billion.
Data from the PVAO showed that since January 2011 up to the present, the government has been able to pay the monthly total administrative disability pension.
However, veterans who died before the government started paying the pension in 2010 have not been paid.
In a statement, the PVAO said it has recommended to President Aquino that the government immediately pay the pension arrearages to the surviving spouses aged 80 and above.
It was learned that P243 million was appropriated in the 2015 budget for the surviving spouses.
There are 16,237 surviving spouses above 80 years old who will benefit from this, the PVAO said as it sought an additional P2.7 billion for the purpose.
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