House panel OKs bill guaranteeing payment of veterans’ benefits

President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, troops the line upon arrival at the Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan on Wednesday (April 9, 2014) for the 72nd Commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). This year’s theme is: “Balik-Tanaw sa Sakripisyo ng Beterano, Gabay sa Landas ng Pagbabago.”(MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III, accompanied by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista, troops the line upon arrival at the Dambana ng Kagitingan, Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan on Wednesday (April 9, 2014) for the 72nd Commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). This year’s theme is: “Balik-Tanaw sa Sakripisyo ng Beterano, Gabay sa Landas ng Pagbabago.”(MNS photo)

QUEZON CITY, Nov. 28 (Mabuhay) – The House of Representatives has inched closer in approving a bill that would guarantee payment of benefits for the country’s veterans.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs recently approved a bill that would authorize government to allocate proceeds from development, lease or use of certain government properties in order that benefits for the veterans are assured.

Bataan Rep. Herminia Roman, committee chairperson, said House Bill 518 addresses the funding problem for the payment of benefits of military veterans in the country.

Authored by Reps. Rufus Rodriguez (Independent, Cagayan de Oro City) and Maximo Rodriguez (Abante Mindanao Party-list), HB 518 provides that the proceeds from the development, lease or use of certain government properties shall be used for payment of pensions and other benefits of veterans. But Acedillo, head of the technical working group (TWG) that drafted the substitute bill, moved to amend the bill so that the generated money shall be used primarily for benefits of the veterans.

The substitute bill provides the declared policy of the State to provide immediate and adequate care and benefits to war veterans by allotting the necessary funds to pay for the arrears in the payment of benefits of the veterans or their dependents.

It mandates the use of the proceeds from the lease, development, or use of the following government properties for such payment:  former site of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) at Arroceros Street, Ermita, manila; Taguig Industrial Estate, otherwise known as the Veterans Center provided under Presidential decree No. 192; properties given by the Japanese government to the Philippine government under the Reparations Agreement, including the Roponggi, Nampeidai and Fujimi properties in Tokyo, and the Noniwacho and Obanoyama properties in Kobe; and other properties that may be identified by the Office of the President.

Under the bill proceeds from the lease, development or use of the mentioned properties shall be concentrated on paying the benefits of veterans whether in arrears or due for payment by the national government, the bill provides.

Further, the measure provides that any shortfall in payment of benefits to veterans shall be settled by the national government from other sources.

Rodriguez said the bill also authorizes the PVAO Administrator to direct, supervise and coordinate private sector participation in the lease, development or use of the aforesaid properties.

The DND Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Finance, shall formulate the rules and regulations necessary for the effective implementation of the Act within 90 days after its approval.

The bill will be referred to the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Rep. Isidro T. Ungab of the 3rd District of Davao City for review of its funding provisions. (MNS)

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