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FIRING LINE: Game over soon for MUP pension system

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Very soon, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., and Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos will be meeting to overhaul the unsustainable pension system for military and other uniformed personnel (MUP).

According to Diokno, the government funded the MUP pension system through internally generated revenues and borrowings, with no contribution from the pensioners themselves.

Let’s not forget that these pay increases for cops and soldiers in 2018 that led to automatic increases in pensions were a “major accomplishment” of former President Rodrigo Duterte. Genius move from the Patron Saint of the War on Drugs! I mean, who needs a sustainable pension system when you can just keep inflating it until it becomes an existential threat?

Suppose this situation is not helped soon enough. In that case, the estimate is that unfunded pension liabilities will reach P1.47 trillion by 2040, which is a small price to pay for the government to continue borrowing funds to cover the pensions of retired MUP. The Marcoses I know from my childhood are good at that!

Seriously now, the only good here is that finally, the government is noticing the problem and taking action — I guess. Incredibly, it took until now for the government to address the issue, despite the MUP pension system being identified as a fiscal risk over the past decade.

But hey, better late than never, right, President Bongbong?

So fear not because Diokno and his crack team of bureaucrats are on the case! They’re going to hold meetings and have “open dialogues” to come up with a “reasonable solution” to this “monumental problem.” I’m sure Marcos Junior, who enjoys stellar satisfaction ratings, is convinced 110 percent that this will be sorted out in no time.

In the meantime, retired MUPs can enjoy their average monthly pension of P40,049, while the poor souls on the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) each receive an average monthly pension of just P4,528 and P13,600, respectively.

At least MUPs getting 8.8 times more than those peasants on the SSS won’t have funny ideas of a coup anytime soon, huh?

What now?

The government needs to take several courses of action to address the unsustainable pension system for MUPs. First, a comprehensive review of the current system and its liabilities should be conducted, and Diokno’s team is on that already.

Second, an open dialogue should be held with stakeholders to develop a reasonable proposal. Third, a unified separation, retirement, and pension system for MUPs should be established, as pointed out by Diokno.

Also, the government should explore ways to reduce the increasing pension payments and the unfunded pension liabilities, such as instituting contributions from the pensioners themselves — something Albay Rep. Joey Salceda wants to fix in the pension system.

Now, both houses of Congress should be put up to speed. Legislation should be passed to ensure a sustainable and equitable pension scheme for current and future members of the military and uniformed services.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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