“Those who are not paid by the previous administrations, actually all of them, for release is P4.7 billion for the payment for the total administrative disability (TAD) arrears for widows of deceased World War II veterans and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] retirees who are 80 years old and above,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in in speech delivered at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for National Heroes Day.
This, indeed, is music to the ears of veterans and AFP retirees, who lamentably are way into their sunset years, and/or their sacrificing widows.
But it would have been a more beautiful music and a consequential event had it been given when many could have still availed of it together with their spouses.
Alas, it took a veteran, a retiree or their widows to reach the dotage of the 80s before they could avail of their benefits!
That alone is a measure of how insensible and unmindful the past presidents have been to the plight of Filipino veterans and retirees or their widows.
If Duterte, who just recently observed his 50 days in office as president, was able to work these benefits expeditiously for the beneficiaries, why wasn’t this done earlier by the previous leaders?
It must have been a great relief to the beneficiaries when Duterte announced that a total of P4.7 billion will released as arrears for Armed Forces of the Philippines and widows of World War II veterans where P3.5 billion are meant for the widows and P1.2 for the military retirees.
From one veteran of foreign war to my esteemed compatriot veterans, I can only say this: A big disservice has been done. It is very possible that delaying or stalling the release of these benefits may have hastened the death of many veterans and retirees or their spouses. The financial assistance was not there when they needed it most for medicines and/or hospitalization.
That is the sad reality of it and past administrations can only be blamed for the beneficiaries’ woes – their corruptness and lack of political will.
It took an unorthodox president like Duterte to have this unimaginable amount of money to be released and be made used for whatever years is left of the beneficiaries. He knows that the country does not lack the funds that will benefit the greater number of ageing patriotic Filipinos, the poor and the marginalized.
It is late, but this where the saying, “better late than never” is appropriately applied.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your understanding and compassion.