The Department of National Defense (DND) is confident the government can prevent an exodus within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) amid an ongoing pension system reform program aiming to upgrade non-monetary benefits of military personnel.
“If we will invest on the skills upgrading and health care—not just the soldiers, but also their families—[and providing them] other non-monetary opportunities, I think they will stay [in the service],” Defense Secretary Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro Jr. during a news briefing in Malacañang on Thursday.
He pointed out that the comprehensive non-monetary benefits for the AFP is what convinces many recruits to seek a military career.
The DND chief made the pronouncement in response to earlier concern raised by former Defense officer-in-charge Carlito G. Galvez Jr. that around 70 to 80 percent of the AFP’s enlisted personnel, who are eligible for retirement, are expected to leave the service before the new pension scheme takes effect.
Many military uniformed personnel (MUP), he said, may be convinced to remain if the government can clearly explain to them the need for the reform and if they will be assured it will provide them with a more sustainable pension system.
“I believe that our men, women in uniform are not averse to the fact that they have to contribute to national government just as long as they see that at the end of their tours of duty, number one, they will be taken care of; number two, that the fund or whatever they have to participate in is transparently, professionally and competently managed and not mismanaged,” Teodoro said.
He noted Galvez has already made significant gains in generating consensus in the military for the said reform.
No less than President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., upon the recommendation of the Department of Finance (DOF), has been pushing to reform the unsustainable MUP pension system, which is currently purely funded by the government.
Among the highlights of DOF’s proposed reforms will be for MUPs to contribute to their pension fund.
Teodoro said he would prioritize the implementation of the reform since it is part of his marching orders from Marcos.
He assured the new MUP pension system will comply with governance and prudential standards and will be managed by competent executives.
“They [fund managers] should undergo the fit and proper rule as stated by the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas]; they should have the requisite experience and responsibility. And it goes also, I will already say it, this will not be done for free. You have to pay for experience, you have to pay for integrity,” Teodoro said.
“I will put in, definitely, my two cents’ worth regarding my views on the sustainability of whatever scheme is given, giving due regard also to the invaluable contributions of those who served our country selflessly,” he added.