Press Release
October 6, 2020

Bong Go pushes for 'win-win' solution on military pension reform: give what is due to our soldiers while ensuring fiscal stability in the future

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go enjoined his fellow senators on Monday, October 5, to support a bill reforming the pension system for the military and uniformed personnel, emphasizing the need to give what is due to the military and uniformed personnel while ensuring fiscal stability and sustainability of their pension system.

During a Senate public hearing conducted by the Committee on National Defense, Go urged his fellow senators to support Senate Bill No. 1419, a measure which aims to maintain financial flexibility on the part of the government, ensuring that the State can and will continue to provide adequate benefits and remuneration to the men and women in uniform.

"As I said, the President wants to give our heroes what is due to them, but we also have to ensure the fiscal stability of our nation. Reform in the system of benefits for the military and uniformed personnel is necessary to achieve a balance between governmental interest and the mandate to ensure the provision of adequate remuneration and benefits to them," he said.

In his manifestation, Go explained that the proposed reform measure seeks to address budgetary concerns, which President Rodrigo Duterte stated in a message in 2017, on "the ballooning budget burden where the total cost of the pensions of retired soldiers will exceed the compensation of those in active service."

Go, however, stated that while he and the President understands that there is a need for change and necessary reforms, "it should not be at the expense of what men and women in uniform have sacrificed all these years."

Hence, Go recommended that whatever reforms that may be introduced in the pension system must apply only to new entrants into military service, and not to those who are in active service.

As a form of compromise and in pursuit of a "win-win" solution, Go proposed the "new" pension system—which financial managers in the Executive came up with and is embodied in his Senate Bill No. 1419—will only apply to new entrants, or those who will enter active service after the effectivity of this law.

"Those who are already in active service can be assured that their pensions are secured. Sa totoo lang po, nung nabalitaan nila noong nakaraang taon, ang dami pong gustong mag-retire, even sa PSG po, madaming nag-file po ng early retirement. At nung nabalitaan nilang na-hold po 'yun ay binawi nila ang kanilang retirement," he said, explaining that the proposed measure will alleviate concerns about uncertainties in the pension system.

Go further mentioned that while the full effects of the pension reform will be seen in only about 35 years from now, or when new entrants now will then retire, this will go a long way towards ensuring that the government gets there in the first place.

"Kahit baka wala na tayo sa mundong ito sa panahong iyon, ang importante ay nakapagbigay tayo ng lunas sa problema. In the long run, makakabuti ito sa ating kasundaluhan at sa ating bansa," he said.

Go explained that the reform is needed to stabilize the country's fiscal position. If the problem continues, Go noted that the country might face significant fiscal problems in the future.

"This will be a problem not just for the retirees, but also for our future financial managers, the entire military service, and the country as a whole," he said.

Go said that there is no better time to advance and pass this reform than now while President Rodrigo Duterte is still in office. He explained that Duterte's wisdom and sheer political will enable him to push for this compromise rather than what could potentially be a harsh transition to a new pension system.

"We will listen, as we have always done. Bukas po ang aming opisina sa lahat ng gustong magsalita. Sabihin ninyo na po, ngayon na. Kung ayaw ninyo, magsabi kayo. Kung gusto ninyo po, sabihin ninyo rin," Go added reiterating that he will fight for a version of the reform measure that would equally balance the welfare of soldiers and, at the same time, ensure fiscal stability of the country.

"Meron pong lumapit sa akin na mga sergeant majors. Sometime in February 2019 sa isang anibersaryo ng Philippine National Police at pinakinggan po sila ni Pangulong Duterte, ang kanilang mga hinaing," he added.

Go also highlighted that the military and uniformed personnel perform the most important task of ensuring the nation's peace and security.

"As a nation, we bear witness to their personal sacrifices. Sila ang frontliners natin sa lahat ng gyerang hinaharap ng sambayanang Pilipino, kahit dito sa pandemyang ito, o hindi man sa pandemyang ito, sila po ang ating frontliners," he said.

Go explained that it is for this reason that he and President Rodrigo Duterte have been supportive of the armed forces and uniformed personnel and has worked to double their compensation.

"In fact, I myself followed up with several government agencies and our legislators, including the senators, to ensure that this Presidential directive is implemented as intended. Ang gusto ng Presidente, masaya ang mga sundalo. Malinaw po yan," he said.

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