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Makabayan bloc to scrutinize MUP pension during budget deliberations

A lawmaker on Sunday committed to scrutinizing the pension systems of the military and uniformed personnel (MUP), with the reform of the system among the priority measures pushed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“Talagang bubusisiin [ng Makabayan bloc] ang MUP pension budget dahil ayon nga sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM) ay aabot it ng P300 bilyon sa 2024 budget,” said House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Representative France Castro in a statement.

“Tapos pumasok po ngayon ang mga isyu na maaari pa daw makuha ang pensyon ng mga drug cops at ang overpayment/underpayment ng pensyon,” she added.

(We will really scrutinize the MUP pension budget because, based on the Department of Budget and Management, this will reach P300 billion in the 2024 budget, then this issue came out that drug cops can still receive their pensions, along with the overpayment and underpayment.)

The Commission on Audit (COA) had flagged some P17.091 million in overpayment and P2.301 million in underpayment last year, due to the discrepancies in the list of pensions.

The same report flagged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for failing to update its pension payroll, which had 1,026 delinquent pensioners.

“Even if the AFP management said that of the 1026 pensioners cited by the auditors, 364 were already deleted from the pension payroll, millions of taxpayer’s funds are still being spent without being sure if they are indeed going to deserving pensioners,” Castro said.

The reform of the MUP pension was among the key measures cited by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.

The President in May pushed for “self-regenerating” pension plans for both the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in an effort to avoid a scenario in which funds would be depleted.

The economic team, headed by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, had warned of the consequences of the pension payments, with the total yearly payouts expected to hit the P1-trillion mark by 2035 from P213 billion in 2023.

Diokno last week said the impact of the MUP pension reform would be felt by the first month of 2024 after Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. said that MUP pension reform would be passed into law by the end of the year. — DVM, GMA Integrated News