Senator Sonny Angara has renewed his call for the immediate passage of bills granting special financial assistance and benefits to uniformed and law enforcement personnel in the wake of intense firefights between government forces and the Maute group in Marawi City.
According to latest reports, the number of fallen government troops since May 23 has risen to 58, including 40 from the Philippine Army, 15 from the Philippine Marines, and three from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The Philippine Marines lost 13 troops in a single day on Friday during a clearing operation that lasted for 14 hours.
“As the siege by extremist groups continue to drag on in Marawi City, our brave soldiers need all the support they can get. It’s unfortunate that this conflict has cost the lives of many of our troops. Nakikiramay po tayo sa kanilang mga pamilya,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker is one of the authors of Senate Bill 1462 or the Uniformed and Law Enforcement Personnel Special Financial Assistance Act, and SB 1463 or the Uniformed and Law Enforcement Personnel Educational Assistance Act.
Under SB 1462, a special financial assistance equivalent to the average six months salary, including allowances and bonuses, will be provided to the families and beneficiaries of any personnel of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who is killed or permanently incapacitated while in the line of duty.
Surviving spouses or designated beneficiaries will be given priority in employment in government agencies and offices where their qualifications are fitted.
SB 1463, on the other hand, provides that all surviving children will automatically and without qualification be extended full scholarship from kindergarten to tertiary level. Such scholarship privilege includes payment of tuition and miscellaneous fees, allowance for books and school supplies, and allowance for food and transportation.
“Bilang pagkilala sa kanilang sakripisyo, mahalaga na masiguro natin ang kinabukasan ng kanilang mga naiwang mahal sa buhay. Upgrading the assistance and benefits of our uniformed personnel is long overdue. I call on our colleagues to prioritize the passage of such bills,” the youthful senator said.
Due to the slow delivery of benefits, the proposed measure further seeks to create a Dependents Welfare Office to expedite the grant of special financial assistance and benefits, which should be within three days from receipt of a written certification of the fact of death or permanent disability or incapacity.
If any personnel is injured or wounded in the performance of official duties, hospitalization expenses, including necessary medicines and medical equipment, will be shouldered by the government.
The proposed measure expanded the coverage of the special assistance to uniformed personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
“Such special assistance befits the selfless service of our fallen heroes who have offered their lives to preserve peace, defend the dignity of the country, and ensure the safety of all Filipinos,” he added.
In addition, Angara has filed a bill that seeks to increase AFP’s hazard pay to 25 percent of their base pay.
Currently, pursuant to Executive Order 201, members of AFP receive P540 in hazard pay.
“If our bill passed into law, we will see an eightfold increase in the hazard pay. Halimbawa, ang isang Private First Class na may monthly base pay na P15,600, ang hazard pay nito ay tataas mula P540 hanggang P3,900,” the legislator explained.
“Bigyan naman natin ng angkop na insentibo ang ating sandatahang lakas para sa kanilang kabayanihan at sa araw-araw na pagharap sa mga panganib,” the lawmaker added.