PGMA works out mid-year increases in military pay
Manila (23 March) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced yesterday a package of benefits for the country's close to 120,000 armed forces personnel, principally to include yearly increases in basic pay until 2010.
Soldiers will likely receive their salary increments for this year shortly after the President bows out of office on June 30.
But she said she has already instructed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to try frontloading the salary increases to ensure that soldiers receive their salary increases even earlier.
The increase in military pay is part of the government's salary standardization program whose implementation started last year.
"Due to the salary standardization law which we worked on, our soldiers can look forward to yearly increases starting this year until 2012," the President said.
Aside from salaries, the President said her administration also doubled the benefits for soldiers killed or wounded in action; provided more scholarships for the children of soldiers; more housing projects for the AFP; more amenities for the uniformed men and women in the field; and more modern equipment that enhanced the night fighting capability of the AFP.
The Chief Executive made the announcements at the 113th anniversary of the Philippine Army (PA) in Fort Bonifacio , Taguig City where she was guest speaker.
The President's appearance at the Army rites was said to be tradition-breaking as it was the first time the Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces graced the annual celebration of the Army, one of the three branches of service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) along with the Philippine Navy and Philippine Air Force.
The President said the increase in the soldiers' salary also forms part of the modernization program to boost the morale, professionalism and effectiveness of the AFP.
The President said the soldiers' salaries have since doubled at the start of her administration.
In 2001, the President said an Army private was receiving only P5,500 monthly in basic pay while a private first class (PFC) was getting P5,830. At present, the President said a Private receives P10,808 in basic pay, while a Private First Class receives P11,513.
The new round of increases which the President wanted to give the soldiers before July, will raise a Private's monthly basic pay to P12,149 and P12,993 for a Private First Class.
"Let us cross our fingers that the DBM will find a solution," the President said amid the applause of the soldiers and the Army officer corps led by new Army chief Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu.
The President congratulated the soldiers "who have become more effective, more professional and have achieved more victories during our last nine years together."
The President said the whole AFP achieved much in helping the national government in pushing progress and stability through the use of hard power and soft development tools such as in building roads, bridges and ports especially in remote and rebel-infested areas.
The President said the soldiers again will play an important role as deputies of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ensure that the people's votes are counted and protected during the presidential elections this year.
As it is, the President said her activities now will be focused more on national governance so as to provide a smooth transition of power for the country's next leader.
During the event, the President led the presentation of awards for the deserving military and civilian personnel of the AFP, assisted by Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, new AFP Chief Gen. Delfin Bangit and Reynaldo Mapagu. (PIA-MMIO) [top]