IN wake of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to step up its offensive against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a lawmaker has made another push to raise the hazard pay of soldiers.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has filed Senate Bill 955 seeking to increase the hazard pay of members of the military to 25 percent of their base pay.
“The State’s national security and sovereignty is the fulcrum of all our economic, social and diplomatic affairs and, therefore, it is proper that those who serve to protect these warrant just compensation,” Angara stated in the explanatory note of the bill.
He said there were several proposals in the past seeking to raise the hazard pay of soldiers because P390 a month then was a measly amount for a soldier who puts his life in danger to ensure the safety of the people.
The senator pointed out that military personnel face risks that are clearly incomparable to those encountered by private-sector employees, civil servants and businessmen.
If his proposal is enacted into law, Angara said, a Private First Class, who receives a monthly base pay of P15,592 will be getting P3,898 as monthly hazard pay.
The last hazard pay increase for all military and uniformed personnel was implemented in February this year under Executive Order (EO) 201, raising it from P240 to P390.
Section 8 of EO 201 provides yearly raises in hazard pay–P540 by 2017, P690 by 2018 and P840 by 2019.
Angara has also filed Senate Bill 956, which aims to create a Military Dependents Welfare Office that will institutionalize and increase education, health and housing benefits for military dependents.
“The government should also prioritize providing more benefits for the families and loved ones of our gallant soldiers given their vital role in the protection of our country’s integrity,” he said.
The Armed Forces is set to deploy five more battalions composed of 2,500 troops in Sulu amid mounting casualties including 15 soldiers who were killed by Abu Sayyaf bandits last Monday.