Duterte gov't vows to solve military pension problem by next year

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 11) — The Duterte administration vows to solve problems in the military pension system by next year.

"We will come up with a solution, maybe not later than middle of this year so that we can implement the adjustment in the pension of the military by next year," Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday during his first press conference for the year.

He said one of the problems is the source of retirement funds. It comes solely from the national budget, not from contributions from uniformed personnel.

"They receive pensions and don't contribute to the system which is odd," he said.

This is one of the reasons behind the "ballooning cost" of the military pension which "continues to be a source of fiscal risk," the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said in its 2017 Fiscal Risks Statement.

Diokno said the problem has been an "elephant in the room" during previous administrations.

"It's a huge amount that nobody would like to talk about since Ramos… Erap, GMA, NoyNoy. Nobody would like to talk about it but we are addressing it," he said. He was referring to former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Benigno Aquino III.

Diokno said the budget department is working with the BTr and the Department of Finance to finally address the problem. 

To help fund the military pension, the administration is studying developing military bases through joint ventures.

President Rodrigo Duterte has discussed plans to lease out Camp Aguinaldo and other bases managed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

Diokno said there are more than 100 military facilities which could be tapped to generate income.

"I think the preference is that we will not sell them. We will just jointly develop them so the income from the joint venture will finance the pension of the military," he said.