Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez reiterated on Tuesday (November 28) that the agency has no backlogs in the distribution of the Php500 monthly social pension for indigent senior citizens.
In an interview over DWPM’s Pintig ng Bayan with Joyce Balancio and Johnson Manabat, Asst. Sec. Lopez, who is also the DSWD spokesperson, emphasized there are no backlogs on social pension payouts to the more than 4.1 million indigent seniors.
The DSWD spokesperson, however, pointed out there are 466,000 indigent senior citizens who are on the waitlist as these would-be beneficiaries require additional funding before they are included in the program.
“Baka po kasi nami-mix up natin na ang backlog ay may kinalaman una sa late na payout namin, hindi po. Up to now, ang atin pong payout when it comes to senior citizens ay on time. Wala po tayong backlogs when it comes to payment,” Asst. Sec. Lopez pointed out.
(Perhaps, there might be a mix-up regarding the backlog, as it is not related to any delays in our payouts.Up to now, our payouts for senior citizens have been on time. We do not have any backlogs in terms of payment.)
Asst. Sec. Lopez explained that the supposed backlog, which was raised by Senator Sonny Angara during the budget hearing, could refer to the 466,000 waitlisted senior citizens, who are seeking inclusion in the social pension program and are not covered by the target beneficiaries.
Currently, the funds allocated for the social pension program for 2023 only cover more than 4.1 million senior citizens with each receiving Php500 monthly stipends.
Asst. Sec. Lopez emphasized that of this number, only around 93,000 senior citizens are being removed from the list due to various reasons such as the beneficiary’s death.
“Iyong discrepancy between sa waitlisted and nag-eexit ay masyadong malayo, and that is the very reason kung bakit may backlog po tayo,” the DSWD spokesperson said.
(The discrepancy between the waitlisted individuals and those exiting the program is significant, and that is the primary reason why we currently have a backlog.)
Asst. Sec. Lopez also mentioned that the budget increase for the social pension program in 2024 will only cover the additional Php500 to the current monthly stipend of the indigent senior citizens in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11916 or an Act Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens.
The DSWD spokesperson said the Php500 additional pension will also be given starting next year once the proposed 2024 budget will be approved. RA 11916, which lapsed into law in July 2022, provides for a 100 percent increase in the monthly pension of indigent senior citizens from Php500 to Php1,000.
Asst. Sec. Lopez said eligible senior citizens should fall within the following criteria to receive social pension: frail, sickly or with a disability; without pension from the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) or from any sources of pension in government and private agencies; and without any permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from relatives to support their basic needs.
The social pension program aims to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of indigent senior citizens.