SENATOR Sonny Angara said that the government will sustain its “indigent senior pension program” with a P23.18 billion allocation next year that will grant 3.8 million senior citizens a P6,000 annual stipend each.
On top of this is a P3,600 annual assistance from the “Unconditional Cash Transfer” (UCT) fund, a three-year “safety net” program for “economically vulnerable families and individuals” which began last year.
Both will be administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, based on a national list and a set of criteria.
The P23.18 billion for the “Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens” is the second biggest item in DSWD’s proposed P158.6 billion budget of 2020.
Next year’s share of “indigent seniors” from the UCT will be sourced, on the other hand, from the program’s P36.48 billion budget lodged by the Department of Finance in the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Based on the UCT guidelines, Angara noted that the two parallel programs will mostly share the same set of beneficiaries.
“Mga P13.6 billion ang maaaring mapunta sa mga senior citizens from the UCT fund,” Angara said.
To qualify for the DSWD’s P500 monthly “social pension,” one must at least be 60 years old, with no regular source of income, and is receiving no financial assistance from relatives for daily living expenses.
Those not entitled to the monthly social pension include seniors who are receiving any pension from Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS); the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Police Mutual Benefit Association Inc.; and other insurance companies.
Angara is one of the authors of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which paved the way for the grant of the monthly stipend to the indigent seniors.
His father, former Senate President Edgardo Angara, was the author of the original Senior Citizen’s Act.
In the current Congress, Angara is pushing for the grant of a 100 percent increase in the pension for senior indigents, from P6,000 to P12,000 annually. The proposal is contained in Senate Bill 133, which is one of Angara’s priority bills.