Aminority leader of the House of Representatives is batting for a new retroactive retirement plan for the country’s Foreign Service officers, in a bid to upgrade their pensions when they reach old age or suffer some other disability.
House Minority Leader Marcelino C. Libanan has filed House Bill (HB) 4077, a Foreign Service Retirement Program that would be launched under the state-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
The new program would cover all foreign-service officers, including those who previously retired or became disabled, as long as they had served for at least 15 years in the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) or in other government agencies.
“We have to consider the financial challenges faced by our foreign-service officers in preparing for their eventual retirement, including their need to resettle and establish a home here in the country after completing their tours of duty overseas,” Libanan said.
He said that the Foreign Service Law of 1991 (Republic Act 7157), “actually endorsed the creation of the very program” he’s pushing for.
Libanan cited Section 63 of the 1991 law, which provides that: “The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, may, as soon as practicable, submit for enactment by Congress a foreign service retirement program.”
Under the bill, the monthly pension of retired Foreign Service officers would be automatically raised based on any future upward adjustment in the pay rate of their last salary grade when they left their jobs.
Differential funding for the program would be sourced from the DFA’s available savings and consular income, as included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
To guarantee program funding, the DFA and the GSIS would be required to meet yearly to ascertain the new money needed.
The DFA would then be obliged to remit to the GSIS as much additional contributions as necessary to sustain the program.
Based on the 2022 General Appropriations Act’s Staffing Summary, the DFA currently has a total of 3,300 authorized permanent positions.