War vet heirs’ pension gets no fund
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Spouses and heirs of 16,237 World War II veterans won’t be receiving their P1,700 monthly checks representing their total administrative disability (TAD) pensions because they were not given appropriations in the P3-trillion national budget for 2016.
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) confirmed this dilemma on Thursday. Its budget in 2016 amounts to P490.4 million, which was bigger than the 2015 budget of P385.8 million. But next year’s TAD program has zero financing.
Republic Act No. 7696, which was enacted in 1994, entitles veterans to TAD with or without service-related disability when they reach 70 years old.
The affected spouses are husbands and wives of veterans who died before government began paying TAD pensions in 2010. More than 6,000 of them are based in Metro Manila while 10,000 others are in the provinces.
“But there’s funding for the regular monthly P1,700 TAD pension for living veterans [of World War II] on top of their P5,000 old age pension,” said Maria Juanita Fajardo Rivera, strategic communications section chief of PVAO.
WWII veterans aged 80 and above number 5,696 while veterans aged between 70 and 79 number 9,899, according to PVAO records.
According to a PVAO briefer, the unpaid TAD pension between 1994 and 2010 totaled P25 billion, due to insufficient funds. The national government began settling the obligations in April 2010, paying P4.1 billion in TAD to 28,993 living veterans for 2003 to 2009.
PVAO raised the amount from its savings in the direct remittance pension servicing system and by purging its list of invalid pensioners.
The TAD pension arrears of P2.9 billion were settled in September 2013. The national government has regularly paid the monthly TAD pension to living veterans since January 2011.
“As the Philippine government advocates the inclusion of deceased WWII veterans as beneficiaries in the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation from the United States government to be paid to the veterans’ spouse or compulsory legal heir, as embodied in the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act now pending at the US Congress, PVAO strongly recommends that the Philippine government does the same in the case of its TAD pension obligation,” said the PVAO briefing document.
“This will bolster our bid for justice to war widows if our own government will set an example,” it said.
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