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Friday, April 19, 2024

Mass exodus from AFP if MUP reform mishandled

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RESTIVE ranks of military and uniformed personnel in active service are mulling over options, including a “mass exodus,” if they are covered by the proposed reforms in the pension and benefit system, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa disclosed on Monday.

A former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) before joining the Senate, dela Rosa warned about looming mass protests or exodus of active soldiers, policemen and other uniformed personnel in the service if they are automatically covered by the Palace-proposed changes in their existing pension and benefit system, without consultations.

Senator dela Rosa noted that “as of now, President Marcos Jr. and his economic team, along with lawmakers, are working on reforms” in the retirement and benefit system, mindful that if nothing is done, it could cause government to suffer a fiscal collapse.

He reiterated the assertion of economic managers that the risk of fiscal collapse springs from the fact that while the pension requirements of retirees in the uniformed sectors are constantly ballooning, those in active service are not being required to contribute anything to the fund, thus further limiting its capacity to service the pension needs.

The sums being borrowed to pay out to retirees are now even bigger than the funds needed for the maintenance and other operating expenses of those in the active service, dela Rosa added, citing testimonies in Senate hearings.

At the last Senate hearing, Defense Officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. had said that as many as 70 to 80 percent of those in the active service are now planning to go on early retirement because of their fear that the new reform bills reducing the retirement  benefits and imposing contributions on those in active service will be enacted and apply to them.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who has been leading the push for critical reforms in the pension system for military and uniformed personnel (MUP), had said that it is only fair to make those in active service contribute a percentage of their salaries to a pension fund, in much the same way that other non-MUP State workers contribute to their pension fund throughout their working life.  Unless this is done, the burden will continue to be borne by taxpayers, and this will soon become unsustainable, he said.

At the weekend, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said he and the economic team were working hard to craft reforms toward a self-sustaining system that would avert a fiscal collapse. 

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