Filipino war veterans who fought during World War II and the Korean War will have greater reason to celebrate Veterans Week and Araw ng Kagitingan next month.
The House appropriations committee, headed by Rep. Karlo Nograles, last week approved House Bill 270 which increases the monthly pension of veterans from the present P5,000 to P20,000 a month.
Principally sponsored by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the bill grants the first increase in benefits for war veterans in more than two decades.
She thanked Nograles for fast-tracking the approval of her bill, saying the Davao representative’s “determination to make this increase possible spelled the difference.”
“With all the veterans of the two wars now in their late 80s and 90s, the need to increase their benefits becomes all the more imperative,” Nograles said.
According to the latest figures from the Philippine Veterans Office, there are 5,655 surviving veterans of World War II and 37,067 beneficiary spouses and children.
For the 7,420 veterans who served in the Korean War, the number has gone down to a mere 40, with living spouses numbering to 205.
Nograles and Roman said they worked extra hard to make sure the bill was passed in time for the commemoration of Bataan Day on April 9.
Funding should not be a problem as the Defense department along with the Education department are allotted the biggest shares of the annual budget.
“Like what we did, looking for funding for the tertiary free education in SUCs starting school year 2018-2019 which amounted to P40 billion, we have allotted more than P10 billion to help our aging veterans to whom we owe a debt of gratitude,” said Nograles.
It was during the bicam that P1.6 billion was also added under the Pension and Gratuity Fund for the full settlement of the total administrative disability pension of veterans.
For her part, Roman said, “Our veterans have sacrificed much for our country. They invested blood, sweat, and tears, and in return it is only fitting that we repay their service by taking care of them in their old age.”
Two of the country’s past presidents, the late Ferdinand Marcos and Fidel Ramos, fought during World War II and the Korean War, respectively.