AFP pensions burden the nation

This article is available in Pilipino

Like leeches, the huge fascist machinery of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sucks dry the people’s funds, not only in the purchase of increasing number of and bigger arms and equipment, but also to cover the pension of its butcher elements after their “service.”

Combatant and non-combatant alike, members of the military bureaucracy do not contribute a single centavo to their pension funds. The entire fund is taken from the national treasury. This is in addition to the maintenance costs of active elements which eat up the biggest share in the budget of the Department of National Defense. This is in contrast to deductions from the salary of public and private employees are deduction as “contribution” to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS).

Soldiers’ pensions are tax-free. They start receiving the pension at age 56, or nine years earlier than the retirement age of other government employees. Their pension is also based on the salary of the next higher rank upon their retirement. This promotes competion for promotion and a race to ranking positions, especially among generals.

Huge leak in the national budget

The needed pension ballooned severalfolds after the former Duterte regime doubled the base pay of the military and police as bribe for their loyalty. The few thousand new soldiers which compose the established combat, arillery and other battalions recruited by Duterte on the promise of high salary, special priveleges and pensions add up to the nation’s spending.

At present, the lowest official (2nd lieutenant) receives a net salary of ₱43,829 per month. This is a far cry from the ₱30,742.27 net entry salary of nurses after deducting required contributions to GSIS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig. A teacher’s net pay is even far lower standing at ₱23,465.50. A new soldier recruit which only trained for six months receives a higher salary of ₱29,668. (In comparison, a worker’s regular wage which stands at ₱8,902 is utterly grievous.)

Officials of the reactionary state admit that the increasing pension funds of the AFP is unsustainable. To cover the pension budget of the military and police and other uniformed personnel, ₱9.6 trillion or ₱800 billion yearly is needed in the next 20 years. According to the Department of Finance, the state will need to borrow an additional ₱3.43 trillion up to 2030, 25% higher than the current level.

The agency suggests deducting 5% to 9% from the salary of soldiers, police, coast guard, prison and personnel of police academies to fund its own pension. (The GSIS deducts about 10% from the gross pay of other government employees per month, while the SSS deducts about 5% from workers earning less than the minimum.)

The agency also suggests to remove the automatic promotion to a rank higher of retirees and add a year to its retirement age. It will cover all active and incoming uniformed elements.

At present, the pension of the lowest ranking soldier is ₱40,000 per month. This is three times bigger than the ₱13,600 monthly pension of a government employee and nine times bigger than the ₱4,528 a worker receives.

Members of the AFP threatened to vehemently oppose to proposed reforms to the military’s pension funds. Retired generals, who are not covered by the proposal, were first to oppose this. Instead of contributing, they want an increase to their pension from 85% to 90% of their base pay.

This does not yet include the bribe given to retired generals after their stint its “pasalubong” system and the anomalous military contracts which their private companies and controlled criminal syndicates monopolize.

AFP pensions burden the nation