The editorial “Everybody happy” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1/24/09) hit the proverbial nail on the head. Some segments of society are not really happy with how the lawmakers appropriated the P1.41-trillion national budget for 2009, especially because they voted for themselves a P9.665-billion pork barrel. While they tucked in another P35 billion for themselves, they did not bother to allocate the P2 billion promised by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her speeches at the 2006 and 2007 commemoration of the Araw ng Kagitingan at Mt. Samat, Bataan to World War II veterans, who are now in the twilight of their lives — some of them already bedridden.
Neither has Congress allocated the amount needed to adjust the veterans’ old-age pension from P5,000 to P10,000 per month to cushion the impact of the worst economic crisis; nor has it appropriated funds to the unfunded Republic Act 6948 as amended by another unfunded law, RA 7696, under which veterans and their wives are supposed to be entitled to an administrative disability pension of P1,700 and P500, respectively, per month upon reaching the age of 70. Most of them are now in their 80s and 90s and, needless to say, they need more maintenance medicines whose prices have been skyrocketing.
Yes, there is something that can be done to stop these lawmakers from their callous and heartless maneuverings for a “much bigger pork barrel and a bigger war chest for the 2010 elections.” Let’s replace the “trapos” [traditional politicos] among them with young and energetic Filipinos who have the ardent desire to help alleviate the sufferings of the poor in the countryside. Other sectors of society can do no less.
GODOFREDO O. PETEZA, post commander, Veterans Federation of the Philippines, Daet South-Imelda Veterans Post, Camarines Norte Veterans District, Daet