SENATOR Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said legislation reforming the pension system for military and uniformed personnel (MUP) needs to be certified as urgent in light of the ballooning payouts to armed forces and police retirees.

“Another risk to our growth… is this pension cost of military and uniformed personnel… In 2020, we will be allocating more for pensions than the salary of those in the active service,” Mr. Drilon said during the plenary debate on the proposed 2020 budget on Tuesday.

He said that the proposed 2020 budget provides for P71.8 billion for MUP salaries against pension costs of P114.7 billion.

“Would the Secretary of Finance recommend to the President the designation of this measure as an administration measure in order to push it through the legislative mill,” he said.

Mr. Drilon said 61.5% of the personal services budget for MUP is allotted for retiree payments while only 39.5% will go to those in active service.

“This cannot go on. Under our laws, the retirees have a corresponding increase whenever there is an increase in the active service (salaries) so as we go down the years, this will become worse,” he said.

Congress Joint Resolution (JR) No. 01, Series of 2018, increased MUP base pay, thereby braising the corresponding pension costs, which are indexed to the salaries of serving personnel.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Juan Edgardo M. Angara said at the plenary debate that a bill pending in the House of Representatives seeks to change the system of indexation, retirement age and contribution scheme, as means of addressing pension costs.

House Bill. No. 05233, as filed, seeks to adjust the retirement age to 60 for those with the rank of Colonel and below, and to 65 for those with rank of Brigadier General and up, from the current 56 years old.

In February, President Rodrigo R. Duterte indicated his intent to certify the MUP Pension Reform Bill as urgent.

“Can we expect that after this budget is signed that the bill in the House be certified as an urgent measure?” Mr. Drilon said. — Beatrice M. Laforga