Pension Caravan Experience
My Pension, My Dignity
(Pension Caravan Experience)
By: LT MARDERRICK M PRESTO PN
Records Officer, AFPFC
As we approach the gymnasium where we will conduct the Pension Cleansing Caravan in Batangas province, I saw a lot of people waiting for us to arrive. They are pensioners and most of them are in their old age and seemingly weary to claim their pension. Some of them are in the wheel chairs and assisted by their relatives. Some have with them their walking sticks. And some still posses that strength of war-beaten soldier of the past despite the physical reality that their body have been brittle by time. It is heartbreaking to see our retired soldier in their state knowing that the pension they receive barely pays for their survival after the noble service they have rendered for the country. Yet, it is also heartwarming at the same time knowing that old people like them are still full of optimism and pride. That, despite their physical status manages to render smile and contentment in life. Inasmuch as we want not to summon them to claim personally their pension, nevertheless it is one way to verify the eligibility of pensioners to receive their pension. This is the purpose of the Pension Cleansing Caravan that the AFP Finance Center conducts.
When we finally arrive at the gymnasium and started the process, many pensioners were pessimistic about the program. Some pensioners were questioning why would the AFP Finance Center have to do such thing, to hold their pension and appear to us physically, considering that many of them no longer or physically weak to travel. But then again, some were still positive about the program especially when we brief them the purpose of the said program.
It all began in 2008 when the AFP Finance Center conducted the first Pension Cleansing Caravan. The result of the caravan was successful for many of the ghost pensioners were found out. The result, the government saved millions of pesos in pension fund, which in return we were able to pay the pensioners back in form of differentials. The caravan team went to the major cities and provinces all around the Philippines to conduct pension cleansing. The AFP Finance Center write to all pensioners who reside in the areas where caravan is scheduled telling them to claim their check (pension) and appear personally to the designated area of caravan.
And after two years of the success the first Pension Cleansing Caravan, another caravan is scheduled. We will do the same process but this time we limit our search on the non-updated pensioners and questioned account. We know that this is not an easy task to accomplish, yet we sacrifice our time and effort in order to clean our pension payroll in order to save millions of pesos which in return we would be able to pay all eligible pensioners through differentials.
My experience in Batangas Pension Cleansing Caravan was quite nostalgic. I was able to see old soldiers who never die but just slowly fading away. In their eyes I could see the hope that the dreams that they have dreamt before are slowly coming true in the eyes of the young bloods like us. I see with them the happiness and contentment of being part of the few who chose to serve the country. The pension that the retirees, including the survivor of the deceased, receive is not just a reward of their loyal service to the country but more of their dignity as old and forgotten soldiers. Their pension is their dignity for it is the only thing that reminds them that they have been part of an organization that served and defended the country and its people.
- the author is a member of PMA class 2004 and currently serving as the Records Management Officer of the AFP Finance Center.