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PIA Press Release

PGMA orders release of P1.8 billion for pension arrears of war veterans

PILAR, Bataan (10 April) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered today the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release P1.8 billion to cover government arrears in the pension payments of Filipino war veterans.

The President issued the directive in her speech read by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita during the 65th Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor) rites on Mt. Samat Shrine here.

She said that since 2006, the government has already released a total of P19.57 billion for the regular pension and P1.6 billion in pension arrears of the war veterans for the remaining months of this year.

With her latest instruction, the government expects to settle all pension arrears by next year.

"I am instructing the Secretary of Budget to release another P1.8 billion for pension arrears. By 2008, we will be up-to-date in our pension payments," the President said.

"For the veterans who are still with us today, I shall continue to serve you and your loved ones with full understanding and a deep sympathy for your needs," the President stressed.

At the same time, the President expressed hope that the United States lawmakers would support the possible passage of the long-awaited Veterans' Equity Bill that would grant Filipino war veterans equal benefits with their American counterparts.

She noted that the US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the pending Veterans Equity Bill on April 11.

"We hope that all the US officials will support this effort to pass legislation that would allow our Filipino veterans to obtain the benefits they have long sought and truly deserve," the President said.

Earlier, Ermita led the wreath-laying ceremonies at the Colonnade, located 448 steps below the foot of the 92-meter cross on Mt. Samat, together with US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney and Japanese Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki.

In her message, Ambassador Kenney cited the war veteransí contribution to world peace, adding that the Philippines, Japan, and the US have now become partners for peace and progress.

On the other hand, Ambassador Yamazaki apologized for the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial forces during World War II, saying the bitter lessons from that war would not be forgotten.

Yamazaki said Japan is now an active contributor to the promotion of world peace without waging war and has now become the Philippines biggest contributor of official development assistance. (PIA) [top]

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