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Salceda says pension reform ‘critical’ to maintain strong defense posture

June 1st, 2021

Salceda says pension reform ‘critical’ to maintain strong defense posture; House military pension supercommittee wants more resources devoted to “credible, modern defense force”

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) who also chairs the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) Pension System says that the pension superpanel is “strongly of the position that MUP pension is critical to maintaining a strong, credible, and modern defense force.”

In statements following the inaugural meeting of the panel yesterday, Salceda says that he has directed the Committee Secretariat to prepare language for the committee report to “dedicate proceeds of non-essential military assets towards defense modernization” and to use the proceeds of the sale, lease, and grant of development rights in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) towards the modernization of the uniformed services.

For military assets deemed not essential to the operations of the military and uniformed services, Salceda says that the disposition will be managed by an asset privatization committee. For NAIA and the NBP, Salceda says he proposes that the military services modernization be given the right of first priority, unless otherwise determined by the President upon recommendation of the Finance Secretary.

“It is logical to give the President that power as Commander-in-Chief.” Salceda said.

Salceda also says that avoiding “massive fiscal collapse” due to unsustainable provisions of the current MUP pension system will allow the country to pursue what Salceda calls “strategic expansion and enhancement of defense systems.”

“In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s administration pursued military pension reforms to keep pension liabilities sustainable. With fiscal space saved, Reagan was able to pursue a massive modernization of the US military, culminating in the Strategic Defense Initiative, which was also known as the ‘Star Wars’ Initiative,” Salceda said.

“With the SDI, the US showed itself to be so militarily capable that the illusion of a two-pole world during the Cold War was shattered, and the Communist bloc just gave up. That is the power of a credible defense force. It prevents war. It also shows the power of strong fiscal resources – they allow us to build a sound defense system,” Salceda added.

“We have to modernize our equipment if we will take a strong posture in the West Philippine Sea and in other areas of concern. We have just two frigates right now, when much-smaller Singapore has at least six. We clearly need to catch up, especially given our archipelagic geography,” Salceda explained.

Committee working on report

Salceda also says that he instructed the secretariat “to prepare the committee report for the panel’s consideration without delay.”

“I am also talking with my counterpart in the Senate, Senator Ping Lacson. What I can reveal for now is that we are definitely coming to an agreement. So, there is plenty of time to get this reform done,” Salceda said.

“The secretariat is readying the draft of the agreements reached yesterday. The Speaker is committed to making this reform work, as is the committee. So, President Duterte’s economic team can count on our strong resolve to get a working reform passed,” Salceda added.

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