SONA 2022 Promise Tracker


Among the legislation wishlist of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., enumerated during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), three are related to the development of the country’s armed forces. They are now moving in Congress.

The revamping of the current pension system for military and uniformed personnel (MUP) is first on the agenda. Economic authorities have warned of fiscal collapse as the current system is fully funded by the government, without any contribution from retirees.

(Read VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Top concerns of military, other uniformed personnel on the Marcos admin’s pension reform proposal)

Bills filed mandating contributions from new and active personnel have been met with warnings from former Defense officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr. that about 70% to 80% of enlisted personnel may opt for early retirement to enjoy the benefits of the current system. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for lawmakers as they craft a measure that would satisfy all stakeholders.

Meanwhile, the administration is also fast-tracking measures that seek to make the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP) mandatory for tertiary education. Several youth groups have protested the move and claim it may worsen the culture of violence in universities and colleges.

Find out the status of Marcos’ SONA promises related to the armed forces:

Establish a Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension

“This grants a monthly disability pension, in lieu of disability benefits provided under existing laws, for military and uniformed personnel (MUPs) retired by reasons of disability.”

(SONA 2022)
  • Senate Bills (SB) 284 and 1421 and House Bill (HB) 4238, which seek to reform the MUP pension system, were filed last year. Among the reforms sought is the mandatory contributions from new and active personnel, which has been met by heavy protest. All three measures are pending at the committee level.
  • Both Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon have warned of fiscal collapse brought about by the ballooning liabilities caused by the current MUP pension system. Galvez has pushed back and said while the Defense department understands the current pension system’s financial ramifications, lawmakers should consider the morale and welfare of the troops.
  • A technical working group was tasked to create new legislation acceptable to all stakeholders following the deliberations by the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security.
Pass Mandatory ROTC and NSTP

“This seeks to reinstitute the ROTC program as a mandatory component of senior high school programs (Grades 11 and 12) in all public and private tertiary-level educational institutions.

The aim is to motivate, train, organize and mobilize the students for national defense preparedness, including disaster preparedness and capacity building for risk-related situations.”

  • SB 2034, the consolidated bill which seeks to reinstate the two-year mandatory ROTC in tertiary education, is currently on second reading. Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, the bill’s sponsor, expects the measure to be approved before yearend.
  • Aside from the mandatory training for both male and female college students, the bill also requires foreign citizens enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs to undergo a “specialized program” that would “deepen their appreciation for the Philippines.”
Amend the National Defense Act

“This seeks to amend the antiquated National Defense Act of 1935 to provide for a change in the military structure of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that is more responsive to current and future non-conventional security threats to the country’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty.”

  • Since Marcos first introduced the proposal, two Senate bills and four House bills have been filed seeking to fill the gaps of the National Defense Act. All remain pending at the committee level.

Find out how Marcos Jr. fared in other sectors

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Presidential Communications Office, 20 legislative measures approved for December 2023 passage in 2nd LEDAC meeting, July 5, 2023

Senate of the Philippines, Committee on National Defense and Security, Peace, Unification and Reconciliation (May 15, 2023), May 15, 2023

On the Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension for MUPs

On the Mandatory ROTC and NSTP

On the amendment of the National Defense Act of 1935

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)