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Bill expanding benefits to ex-Philippine presidents filed in Senate

A measure seeking to expand the benefits for former Philippine presidents has been filed in the Senate.

Senate Bill 1784 was filed by Senators Bong Go, Mark Villar, Ronald dela Rosa, and Francis Tolentino to "maintain the dignity of the Office of the President and honor former Presidents of the  Republic."

In their explanatory note, the four lawmakers pointed out that a former president still serves as a representation of the country and contributes insights on nation building and pressing national issues even after stepping down from office.

"Despite the end of their term, they are also expected to perform post-presidential duties such as meeting with foreign and local dignitaries, and attending public events and other social engagements. These duties often require them to employ services of personal staff and maintain private offices," the senators said.

Under SB 1784, former presidents will be entitled to personal security detail from the Presidential Security Group to be augmented by the Philippine National Police as the need arises, for the remainder of their lives.

Former presidents shall also have the right to choose the head of their own security detail.

Their immediate family shall also be entitled to at least two personnel to be provided by the PSG for so long as the former president is living.

Further, the bill directs the Office of the President to provide adequate staff and a suitable office space to the former presidents

The former presidents shall select their own staff members as well as the place where they will establish their office.

If enacted into law, the measure is expected to benefit former Presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Rodrigo Duterte.

At least one senator — Senator Robin Padilla — has thrown his support behind the bill.

I fully support the proposal to give additional benefits to former Presidents, especially since their sacrifice for the nation continues," Padill said in a statement on Monday.

"I am sure they have much to contribute to our nation, even after their terms end."

Padilla also proposed that former presidents be automatically made presidential advisers. He said it will be up to the sitting president to decide which area the former state leaders can contribute.

"For example, in the case of former President Rodrigo Duterte, he can be made an adviser on law enforcement or on foreign relations," Padilla said. —Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News