Lawmakers push for benefits deserved by war veterans

The House of Representatives-approved bill mandating the payment of the Total Administrative Disability (TAD) pension to senior veterans of war and military campaigns still awaits the Senate’s green light.

HB 4359 had long been passed by the House in 2011 and authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez, Maximo Rodriguez Jr., and Herminia Roman, chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs & Welfare.

Rep. Rodriguez, author of the original substituted measure (HB 601), noted that Congress enacted R.A. 6948, otherwise known as “An Act Standardizing and Upgrading the Benefits for Military Veterans and their Dependents,” in order to recognize the immense contributions of Filipino war veterans, who selflessly and valiantly defended the nation’s sovereignty against foreign intruders during World War II.

“Yet, sadly for more than 10 years, the law has not been implemented, mainly due to budgetary constraints and partly to administrative inefficiencies, causing tremendous pecuniary losses to thousands of veterans and their beneficiaries, some of whom have died while waiting for the release of what supposedly are legally and justly entitled to receive,” Rodriguez said.

Other lead authors include: Reps. Raymond DC Mendoza, Czarina Umali, Jorge Almonte, Godofredo Arquiza, Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David, and the former House Appropriations Committee Chairman and now DOTC Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Rep. Roman said the proposed statute authorizes the release of all collections of the bureau of Treasury from escheated unclaimed deposits as one of the sources for the payment of the TAD pension of veterans.

“This measure should augment the payment of the TAD pension which has not been fully implemented since R.A. 6948 was enacted in 1994,” Roman pointed out.

The bill also includes the amount required for the continued payment of the arrearages for the TAD pension in the annual budget of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office until the same are fully paid.

“If only to provide relief, albeit inadequate and certainly not commensurate to what our wartime heroes have accomplished for our country, the proposed measure intends to authorize the release of dormant accounts under the management and control of the Department of Budget and Management, in order to cover for initial payment to qualified veterans, who at this time, urgently need financial assistance to shoulder their medical and other pressing needs,” Rodriguez said.