THE Senate wants a law granting benefits and privileges to former presidents and vice presidents to “honor them” and allow them to perform duties and functions often required of former top two officials of the land.
Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Loren Legarda jointly filed Senate Bill 1683 under Committee Report 240 prepared by the Senate Committees Civil Service, Ways and Means, as well as Finance which they head respectively.
However, there are some requirements for a former president and vice president to be eligible for the benefits and privileges under the proposed measure.
SB 1683 states that he or she “was not removed from office through impeachment; has not been convicted by final judgment of any crime involving corruption or moral turpitude; and has not accepted any appointive employment and/or had not ran for any elective position in the government after his or her term of office as president or vice president.”
The country currently has four former presidents: Fidel Ramos (1992 to 1998), Joseph “Erap” Estrada (1998 to 2001), Gloria Arroyo (2001 to 2010), and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino (2010 to 2016).
There are presently three former vice presidents: Estrada (1992 to 1998), Arroyo (1998 to 2001), Noli de Castro (2004 to 2010), and Jejomar Binay (2010 to 2016). The late former senator Teofisto Guingona Jr. was vice president from 2001 to 2004.
Under SB 1683, each former president and vice president should be entitled to the following benefits and privileges for the remainder of his or her life:
• tax-free retirement pension equivalent to the salary of an incumbent president and incumbent vice president for the former president and vice president respectively;
• adequate personal security and protection detail of at least three personnel to be provided by the Presidential Security Group (PSG), to be augmented by the Philippine National Police (PNP);
• all mail matters of the former president and vice president addressed for delivery within the Philippines should
be received, transmitted, and delivered free of charge if the envelop or wrapper of such mail matter bears on the left hand corner the name of said former president and vice president; and
• 50-percent discount on all public transportation and foreign travel for him or her and an aide or accompanying person.
Ramos served as Duterte administration’s special envoy to China in July 2016 but resigned from his post in November 2016. Estrada is now Manila Mayor. Arroyo is currently representative of Pampanga’s second district while Aquino is leading a private life.
De Castro went back to broadcast industry while Binay is reportedly teaching.
Committee Report 240, signed by 19 senators, also extends benefits and privileges to the surviving spouses of former presidents and vice presidents. However, the widow or widower would lose the benefits if he or she remarries.
The Department of Budget and Management is mandated under SB 1683 to allocate funds to implement the proposed “Former Presidents and Vice Presidents’ Benefits Act of 2018.”