HOR COMPLEX, Quezon City (DWDD) – The House committee on national defense and security chaired by Rep. Amado Espino (5th District, Pangasinan) approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) that will consolidate four bills seeking to rationalize and raise the various monetary benefits for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
The measures are House Bills (HB) 429, 1490, 5532 and 5592 authored by Reps. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Harlin Neil Abayon (Party-list, AANGAT TAYO), Michael Romero and Enrico Pineda (Party-list, 1-PACMAN) and Espino, respectively.
The adjustment in the pay and benefits of AFP members would be a way of giving recognition to soldiers who risk their lives to preserve the internal security and stability of the country and defend the integrity of the national territory, according to the authors.
Arroyo said her HB 429 seeks to adjust the combat pay and the additional combat incentive pay of the members of the AFP.
“It shall allocate a monthly combat pay of P1,000 and an additional P500 per day combat incentive pay for those who are designated to engage in actual battle,” said the former President.
Meanwhile, Romero and Pineda in HB 5532 sought to increase the longevity pay of all officers and enlisted men of the AFP, and provide additional payment for their substantive duties and responsibilities.
Abayon said his HB 1490 seeks to provide for an automatic pay increase for any member of the AFP who is deployed away from his permanent station, or in the case of a member of an AFP reserve component, the member’s home of record, once the deployment period exceeds 180 days of continuous duty.
Espino, a former officer of the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP), said his HB 5592 seeks to raise the quarter allowance of AFP officers and enlisted personnel.
In presiding the hearing, Espino said any legislative measure that will ensure adequate remuneration and benefits for military personnel is truly welcome.
“Looking for a bigger picture to increase and balance the allowance of our soldiers, ito ang dapat baguhin sa batas. This is an eye opener for us, kaya magtulungan tayo,” he said.
AFP Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel Brigadier General Arnel Duco, in a powerpoint presentation, provided figures on the AFP’s current quarter allowance, collateral entitlement, and longevity pay.
For quarter allowance alone, Duco said the present rate is not adequate to support decent quarters as the current rate of house rental overwhelms the living conditions of military personnel and their families.
For a clearer presentation, Espino suggested to consolidate all such allowances and ensure that adequate support and incentives will eventually be given to the members of the AFP.
“Ano mas pipiliin mo, yung sundalong nagluluto sa battle field o yung officer na nasa quarter kasama ang pamilya? Kung ano man ang allowance, isama na natin lahat,” Espino said.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Assistant Bureau Director Evelyn Peralta said that one of their proposals, per the instruction from the Office of the President (OP), is to recommend to Congress the increase in the base pay of military personnel.
Asked for details, Peralta said it was the DBM Office of Compensation and Classification Bureau that drafted their proposal.
Rep. Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), a lawyer and former head of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), said the proposal should be included in the law so it will have a strong legal basis.
“The moment we increase the pay, ang daming classification sa budget because of the existing law. Pwedeng ulitin dahil we know the President is a man of his word. Gagawin nya, pero wala naman sa budget. Ilagay dapat sa batas para matibay ang ating legal basis. And I would request to invite the bureau chief of the DBM in the next hearing,” explained Acop.
Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd District, Pangasinan), also a retired PNP officer, expressed support for the TWG creation and requested all the resource agencies to submit their position paper to the committee.
Rep. Gary Alejano (Party-list, Magdalo), a former Marine captain, said he filed a similar measure which provides for a bigger quarter allowance of soldiers. His bill was referred to the House committee on appropriations.
He requested that his bill be instead referred to the committee on national defense and security for further deliberation. CONGRESS / MCAG