Press Release
October 5, 2006

Jinggoy blames Palace for not saving RSBS

OPPOSITION stalwart Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada yesterday blamed the Arroyo Administration for neglecting the welfare of military pensioners and failing to rescue the beleaguered Armed Forces of the Philippines Retirement and Separation Benefits System (RSBS).

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. recently announced that the department might be forced to close down the bankrupt RSBS after the military pension fund was plagued by anomalous transactions in the past.

Estrada said that former Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado was ordered by his father, President Joseph Estrada, to investigate the RSBS anomalies and the probe uncovered various illegal transactions that depleted the cash and other assets of the pension fund that was created from contributions made by soldiers.

The Senate had recommended the filing of graft charges against former military officials of RSBS led by retired AFP chief Gen. Lisandro Abadia.

The eldest son of President Estrada said that the administration of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ignored the welfare of military pensioners and failed to do anything to rescue RSBS.

The lack of concern of the Arroyo Administration for the welfare of the military pensioners had resulted to the shutdown of RSBS and the contributions of ordinary soldiers in preparation for their retirement have been lost, the younger Estrada added.

According to the senator, the administration could have allowed the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) to absorb RSBS so that the contributions of soldiers would not go to waste or the government could have taken over the operations of the military pension fund.

The problem with this administration is that it has so many irrelevant priorities like the Charter change, and have forgotten about the problems of ordinary citizens like the welfare of soldiers that were relying on the RSBS for their retirement benefits, he said.

The senator added that President Estrada ordered the probe on RSBS because of his concern for the welfare of the ordinary soldiers, but unfortunately he was ousted from office and the RSBS scam was forgotten by the Arroyo Administration that was allegedly "protecting" the former RSBS officials who were recommended for prosecution.

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