Vice President Jejomar C. Binay urged the administration to immediately release P17 billion in disability benefits to more than 80,000 pensioners, including war veterans and the surviving spouses of deceased veterans.
Binay said government should immediately look for funding for the P2.7 billion disability benefits of 16,237 widowers of veterans.
“The administration has under¬spent on many projects from different departments and agencies. It can very surely allocate funds for the veterans and wives of deceased veterans. Many died before receiving their benefits. Let us show some compassion,” the Vice President said.
Binay agreed that the P5,000 monthly benefit should be increased to P20,000 as proposed by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).
At present, veterans and wives of deceased veterans receive P5,000 monthly pension and P1,000-P1,700 disability benefit if the veteran has reached the age of 70 or were injured in line of duty.
Binay said that in Makati, veterans are covered by the city government’s services for senior citizens, which include subsidized medical and hospitalization care through the Yellow Card program, cash gifts, free groceries and medicine, among others.
Earlier, PVAO stressed the need to prioritize the welfare and well-being of the veterans and for Congress to upgrade the benefits of pensioners through a new law.
As of September 2013, the government paid P2.9 billion in outstanding pension arrears to living veterans. This brought the total payment to P6.9 billion.
The vice president said government should find funds for the unpaid benefits of veterans who died before the government started paying the pension in 2010, especially to surviving spouses aged 80 and above.
“They are old. They need money for their maintenance medicines. The pension they get is not even enough for their medications,” Binay said.
The Vice President noted that the increase in benefits will greatly help 14,000 veterans in PVAO’s list who are now in their 90s.
“Isa sa mga beterano natin ay 106 years old at nakatira sa Baguio City. Ang pinakamatanda sa kanila ay namatay na sa Bongabong, Nueva Ecija sa edad na 111. Huwag na sana nating hintayin na mamatay ang iba pang beterano bago pa maibigay ang mas mataas na benepisyo. Iilan na lang sila. Kung gusto natin silang guminhawa, makakahanap po ng pondo,” he said.