Econ team seeks out PH Army, PH Coast Guard insights in crafting balanced MUP pension reform

The economic team held back-to-back consultations with members of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine Army (PA) to further discuss and refine the proposed Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) Pension Reform Bill on Friday, June 9, 2023.

“When we started the roadshow, ibang-iba po ang proposals namin. Pero dahil nakikinig kami, nag-iba na po ang mga proposals. Yung mga makikita nyo po ngayon, this has been the product of various consultations with stakeholders,” said Department of Finance (DOF) Undersecretary Maria Luwalhati C. Dorotan Tiuseco.

[When we started the roadshow, our proposals were very different. But because we are listening, the proposals have changed. The presentation you will see today has been the product of various consultations with stakeholders.]

The revisions were applied to address concerns and recommendations gathered by the economic team in the past six (6) consultations with various MUP services.

Deputy Treasurer Erwin D. Sta. Ana emphasized the government’s commitment to finding a “healthy balance” between ensuring the sustainability of the MUP pension system and upholding the welfare of enlisted personnel.

Some members of the PCG sought clarifications on the applicability of the reforms while others offered suggestions to further improve the proposed packages for optional retirement.

Meanwhile, PA officers openly expressed their sentiments to the representatives from the DOF, Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Department of National Defense (DND), and Senate of the Philippines.

The government representatives assured the officers that their concerns and suggestions will continue to be taken into consideration in an effort to improve the current proposal and arrive at a mutually acceptable version of the bill.

“[Our proposals] will be better because of your participation,” said Undersecretary Dorotan Tiuseco.

DOF Undersecretary Maria Cielo D. Magno also allayed fears of several members of the MUP by clarifying that the military pension is only one of many areas of reform the government is currently reviewing.

“I want to assure all of you na hindi lang po yung military [pension] reform ang tinitingnan natin para maibsan yung kasikipan ng kalagayang pampinansyal ng gobyerno. Kaninang umaga lang po nag-identify tayo ng walong (8) bagong reporma para masiguradong matutustusan ang mga pangangailangan ng budget next year.”

[I want to assure all of you that the military pension reform is not the only one we are looking at to ease the tight financial conditions of the government. Just this morning we identified eight (8) new reforms to ensure that we will be able to finance all the needs of our budget for next year.]

These reforms include the rationalization of government bureaucracy to make it more efficient and other mechanisms to raise revenues, according to Undersecretary Magno.

The consultation with the PA drew the largest crowd so far, with approximately 20,000 participants joining the dialogue online and on-site at the Philippine Army Officers Clubhouse, Taguig City.

To date, the economic team has held a total of nine (9) consultative discussions with members from the PA, Philippine Air Force (PAF), Presidential Security Group (PSG), Philippine Navy (PN), Philippine National Police (PNP), AFP Health Service Command (AFP-HSC), PCG, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

The administration bill is expected to be finished in time for the resumption of Congress’ session in July 2023.