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House assures war veterans of support

THE House of Representatives assured support for the war vets and their families on Tuesday.

“Many who survived the Bataan Death March in 1942 are in their twilight years now and it is my hope that their example of bravery and deep love of country becomes even more valuable to our youth who reap the fruits today of what they had fought for many decades ago,” House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said in a statement as the country commemorated Araw ng Kagitingan.

“As we laud our forefathers and men of great valor, our gratitude must not end there but translate into concrete endeavors to afford the Filipino veterans with the dignified life they deserve. We, in the government, will likewise play our part in supporting these moves, Belmonte added.

This developed as lawmakers vowed to push for benefits due to war veterans.

The House has approved a bill mandating the payment of the Total Administrative Disability (TAD) pension to veterans of war and military campaigns.

HB 4359 had long been passed by the House in 2011 and authored by Puwersa ng Masa Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, Party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. of Abante Mindanao and Liberal Party Rep. Herminia Roman of Bataan, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare.

“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,” Rufus Rodriguez said.

Roman said the bill 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.

The bill also includes the amount required for the continued payment of the arrears 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,” Rufus Rodriguez added.

Roman also cited the House-approved HB 6754 or “An Act to give juridical personality to the present Veterans Memorial Medical Center [VMMC], appropriating funds therefor, and for other purposes.”

“HB 6754, like other measures promoting the welfare of our veterans and their dependents, would ensure continued free medical care for the veterans,” she said, noting that the principal author of the original bill (HB 6502) is Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga.

While transforming the VMMC into a corporate body with juridical personality, HB 6502 seeks to strengthen the hospital’s financial operations, reinforces its existence and perpetuation as a first-rate and prestigious medical institution, the authors said.

While reiterating the VMMC’s commitment to serve the Filipino war veterans, the measure provides greater flexibility in its operations with autonomy in the exercise of its jurisdiction.

The VMMC Board of Trustees shall be composed of the Secretary of National Defense as chairman, medical director of the VMMC as vice chairman and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense and Security, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Welfare; Secretary of Health; Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office; chairman of the Philippine Veterans Banks; president of the Veterans Federation of the Philippines and three appointive members who are veterans and who have exerted conspicuous efforts towards the promotion of veterans’ welfare and well-being as members.

Once the bill has been enacted, the appointive members shall be named by the President and shall serve for a term of three years.                                                                                                           

Leony R. Garcia



In Photo: President Aquino delivers his speech during the 71st commemoration of Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) at Dambana ng Kagitingan in Mount Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan, on Tuesday. In 1989, Proclamation 466 designated April 5 to 11 of every year as Philippine Veterans Week to promote, preserve and memorialize the principles, ideals and heroic deeds of Filipino war veterans. (Malacañang Photo)







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