Press Release
February 7, 2023

Senate Bill No. 1849

Mr. President, I rise today to co-sponsor Senate Bill No. 1849 under Committee Report No. 23, which aims to amend Republic Act No. 11709, a law which seeks to strengthen the professionalism and promote the continuity of policies and modernization initiatives in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Mr. President, as I have said during the last Congress, the passage of the measure is tantamount to hitting two birds with one stone as it will ensure the professionalization of the AFP, and more importantly, it will make us one step closer to resolving the ballooning pension of the military and uniformed personnel which has now reached P9.6 trillion for the next 20 years. Thus, it gave birth to Republic Act No. 11709 primarily to address these issues.

However, no law is perfect. It is through the clamor of our military personnel that the unintended consequences of Republic Act No. 11709 have been far-reaching in fact, even reaching the four corners of this chamber as it has resulted in unnecessary attrition and bottlenecks in promotion. This, Mr. President, highlights the need to address these issues immediately.

As a former military officer, hindi kaila sa akin kung gaano kahirap ang pinagdaanan ng ating kasundaluhan. Ang pagsasakripisyo para sa bayan ng malayo sa pamilya, ay laban ng buhay na aming hinaharap sa araw-araw. Matagal na pong retirado sa military si Bato ngunit hindi nagtapos ang pagseserbisyo.

Today, as a legislator, I continue to battle for the rights and welfare of my brothers in arms. It is within the judgment of this august body to resolve issues that might have caused unnecessary worries and distress to our uniformed personnel.

Senate Bill No. 1849 amends certain provisions of Republic Act No. 11709 such as the provisions on the tour of duty of key officers, the forced attrition of our enlisted personnel, compulsory retirement for military personnel, and officer grade distribution. Undoubtedly, Mr. President, now is not the time to unnecessarily limit the capability of the AFP especially with the ongoing issue on the West Philippine Sea. We must strengthen our country's defense capability to protect our country's sovereignty. However, we must first find a middle ground to resolve our internal affairs. A timeless saying has never been more appropriate: "United we stand, divided we fall."

Mr. President, as legislators, we must hear the clamor of our military personnel without necessarily compromising the purpose for which Republic Act No. 11709 was passed, to remove the revolving door policy and to resolve the ballooning pension of the AFP. I humbly appeal to you, my colleagues, to support this measure. Our troops are fighting battles in the field for our sovereignty and freedom. In turn, let us assure them that the battle for their welfare within this hall is not far from victory.

Before I end, Mr. President, I would like to ask the permission of my Chairman of the Senate Defense and Security Committee and the main sponsor of this bill to accept my desire to become co-author of this measure, Mr. President.

Maraming Salamat, Mr. President.

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