Press Release
January 8, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today urged Malacañang and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to allocate funds for the unpaid benefits of Filipino war veterans if it is true that about P35 billion in savings was generated from the cost-cutting measures of the national government last year.

He also asked the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office to cleanse the master list of veterans of spurious or ghost pensioners so that the legitimate claimants will not be left out in the delivery of pension and other benefits.

Pimentel said its about time the government settled its more than P20 billion arrears in disability benefits to the veterans either fully or partially and do justice to those who risked their lives in defending the nation against foreign invaders.

He made the appeal in response to the complaints of ageing Filipino veterans of World War II, now living in the United States with whom he had a dialogue during a private visit to San Diego, California last month.

Under Republic Act 6984 or Veterans Disability Compensation Act enacted in 1994, veterans who have reached the age of 70 are entitled to an additional P1,700 monthly pension. The amount is on top of the P5,000 basic monthly pension they regularly receive from Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO). But the additional pension has not been implemented since the effectivity of the law due to budget constraints.

When will these veterans get their disability pension benefits? When they have already gone to the great beyond? Its a great disservice and injustice to deny the grant of the benefits to which they are rightfully entitled.

Since the Palace is now claiming it has plenty of extra cash, Pimentel said the government should not run away from its legal obligation to the veterans who badly need the extra benefits in their twilight years when they are suffering from ailments and disabilities associated with old age.

The senator said he was told that more than 85,000 war veterans are qualified to receive the disability pension.

Pimentel also suggested that part of the supposed savings should be used to pay the cost-of-living allowances that public school teachers have been requesting for a number of years now in order to augment their meager salary.

He said the US-based veterans informed him that they have already sent the documentary requirements to the PVAO. But he said they either received no reply from PVAO or were told that their benefit claims were on hold for lack of funds.

Pimentel urged Congress to substantially increase the appropriation for veteran benefits under the 2006 national budget so that the government could gradually settle its financial obligation.

He said that while it is pleasant to hear the government channeling more funds to pro-poor projects, it should not neglect the needs of marginalized state workers, such as veterans and teachers.

Should Malacañang fail to allocate funds for the additional benefits of the veterans, Pimentel said this would only reenforce the suspicion that the supposed savings exist only on paper or much less than what is being claimed by the Palace.

Doubts about the availability of funds surfaced when Budget and Management Secretary Romulo Neri admitted that the initial estimate of P35 billion savings from the reduction of the budget deficit was overstated, and that if at all, only P10 billion may be available for food, education, health, infrastructure and housing projects meant to pump-prime the economy.

News Latest News Feed