Tuesday, 17 March 2009

PGMA releases P125M in housing support to disabled soldiers, families of soldiers killed in action


FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City (PND) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced today the release of P125 million in housing assistance to “disabled soldiers and the families of soldiers killed in action.”

The more than 1,000 beneficiaries of the housing assistance program will receive P180,000 each.

The President made the announcement in her speech keynoting the 104th Commencement Exercises of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) here.

“Yesterday, I instructed the release from the President’s Social Fund (PSF) of more than P125 million, the biggest release I have ever had from the President’s Social Fund,” she said.

The President pointed out, however, that while her administration will not waver in its commitment to help disabled soldiers and families of soldiers killed in action, the global economic crisis highlights the need for government to “tighten its belt and live within its means.”

“But even as we help provide homes to the families of the disabled and the slain in these challenging economic times, the government must tighten its belt and live within its means just like the average Filipino household,” she said.

The President listed down several measures the government is undertaking to ensure that resources are spent wisely, among them, her directive to all government agencies, including the Department of National Defense (DND), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PMA to set aside 1.5 percent of their maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE).

The President has directed all government agencies to reserve 1.5 percent of their MOOE to fund an emergency employment program. The presidential directive is expected to raise P7 billion, enough to pay the wages of at least 150,000 workers over a six-month period.

The President’s order last year for government offices “to start electricity and fuel-saving measures” was paying off by substantially lowering energy consumption.

She said that the savings and revenue generated by the belt-tightening measures will be used to provide, among others, “emergency employment” to Filipino workers during a six-month period.

As an example, the President cited Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. who, as “Emergency Employment Champion for Region 12 (Central Mindanao), will undertake job generation programs for “towns in that region that belong to the 100 poorest towns in the country.”

She also said that the government has stepped up its job matching program "to make information about job vacancies available to more people simultaneously with accelerated skills training program" through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Aside from the Emergency Employment Program, the President said that the savings from the MOOE would be used to feed schoolchildren.

"So from your savings, the savings from the military camps, I ask them, including PMA to spend part of the savings for providing breakfast for day-care, pre-school or grade 1 children in the schools nearest or within the camp," the President said.

"We must tackle many challenges at once to keep our economy and way of life going strong. On the part of government, we must live within our means and run a lean efficient government, including the DND, the AFP, the PMA and the units that you, our young graduates will soon be commanding," she said.

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