MANILA – Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab (Davao City) said the unilateral decision of House committee on appropriations chair Eric Yap on the P20-billion budget cut in the military pension fund has “gravely affected” the remaining unsettled payouts of retired soldiers.
In his privilege speech on Monday, Ungab responded to Yap’s accusation that he was responsible over the supposed fund deficiency for the retired soldiers’ unsettled pension adjustments due to the P74-billion budget cut under the 2020 National Budget—which was approved and ratified when the Davao City solon was still the chair of the Lower House’s appropriations panel.
In response to Yap’s allegations, Ungab cited the recent statement made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), wherein it stated the deficiency in the gratuity did only happen when the 2021 National Budget approved—wherein Yap led the budget process, being the current appropriations panel chair.
Based on the DBM’s press release, it was explained that the real cause of the present deficiency in the military pension fund is due to the unsettled 2018 pension adjustments which were supposedly computed to be paid in its submitted P172.9 billion 2021 budget.
In the submitted 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) to Congress, the DBM has proposed P172.9 billion for the pension and gratuity fund of retired military and other uniform personnel, but the legislature only approved P152.9 billion in its final draft.
“The P20-billion budget cut of Cong. Eric Yap gravely affected these intended 2018 unsettled payouts. Ayan po, malinaw po ang mga numero na nakapaskil sa DBM, hindi po nagsisinungaling ang mga datos na ito,” said Ungab.
For Ungab, since Yap had already accepted responsibility over the slash fund, the ACT-CIS solon should better not pass the blame on others, following the blunder he committed.
During his interpellation with Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor last week, Yap admitted that he didn’t consult the present House leadership, particularly Speaker Lord Allan Velasco when he realigned the portions of the gratuity fund, citing lack of time.
Ungab stressed that being a reserved Philippine Army colonel himself, he assured all the men in uniform that he is there in Congress “to help protect and legislate” what they truly deserve from the government, as promised to them by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Alam naman nating lahat na hindi pababayaan ni Presidente Duterte ang mga empleyado ng gobyerno, because he was once an employee of the Department of Justice. Lalong-lalo na po ang mga kawani natin na sundalo at pulis. Malapit na malapit po kayo sa puso ng ating Pangulong Duterte,” said Ungab. (CRD)