MANILA (Mabuhay) – The government should act on over P20 billion in unpaid benefits for Filipino war veterans and their dependents, a senator said Wednesday.
On Araw ng Kagitingan, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a former Navy officer, said government funding in the last three years have not been enough to cover all war veterans, despite a 20-year-old law standardizing benefits for them.
“Republic Act 7696 was enacted in recognition of the relevant role our war veterans and military retirees played in protecting the country. However, a number of them have died without enjoying the benefits due to lack of government funding because it was not specified under the law,” Trillanes said.
The senator was referring to a legislation passed in 1994, which specified entitlements for military veterans and their dependents.
According to Trillanes, the government’s total obligation to war veterans reached P25 billion in 2010. The administration only allocated P170 million for military veterans that year, and P2.9 billion in 2013.
To address the shortfall, Trillanes is asking the Senate to pass Senate Bill (S.B.) 166, which proposes paying war veterans’ benefits through the development and lease of government properties, such as the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
“There are still many things that can be done to uplift the status of our veterans; majority of whom are now elderly, sick, underprivileged, disabled, and poor. They receive very small pensions, and little benefits and medical assistance,” he said.
Trillanes, who chairs the Senate defense committee, said war veterans “deserve to be respected and appreciated for what they have done in honor of our country.”
S.B. 166 is currently pending at the committee level. It has to undergo committee and plenary voting before it can be passed by the Senate.
Two similar measures are also currently awaiting committee action at the House of Representatives. (MNS)