Press Release
September 10, 2015

250,000 more seniors to get pension due to hike in program budget

Almost a quarter-million more indigent senior citizens will receive the P6,000 annual pension from the government next year, the chair of the Senate Finance Sub-Committee that reviews the budget for that program said today.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto, who oversees the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said funding for the DSWD-run Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens Program will increase from the current P5.96 billion to P7.51 billion next year.

The P1.54 billion hike would fund the enrollment of an additional 243,332 seniors, or to 1,182,914 from this year's 939,609.

"The proposal that we received is that all indigent seniors 60 years old and above will be covered by the proposed allocation," Recto said.

Despite this, the Senate will still double check the figures "because we want to adopt a No Senior Left Behind policy on this," Recto said.

He said the Senate has a "good track record" in expanding the coverage of "social protection programs."

He cited the 2015 budget of the senior pension program, which was originally pegged at P4.76 billion but which the Senate successfully raised to P5.96 billion, "by cutting the fat in the budget and rechanneling it to good programs."

After Recto introduced the proposal to increase the funding, then Senate Finance Committee head Sen. Chiz Escudero endorsed the amendment of the budget bill so more seniors could be brought into the program.

The grant of a monthly pension to "economically disadvantaged" seniors is mandated by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, a measure Sen. Pia Cayetano authored.

Last year, the program only covered seniors 77 years old and above.

This year, as a result of the Senate initiative, the cut-off age was brought down to 65.

"What is left is to close the gap, and finally bring in all qualified seniors to the program. After all that's what the law says. But due to budget constraints, this was implemented on an incremental basis," Recto explained.

RA 9994 defines an "indigent senior citizen" as someone 60 years old and above who is "frail, sickly, or with disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his relatives to support his needs."

"Ito 'yung hindi lang may edad na, may sakit pa o kapansanan, walang trabaho, walang maykayang kamag-anak na kumukupkop at walang ibang pensyong natatanggap. These are people in extremely difficult circumstances," Recto said.

"Kung tutuusin ang P500 a month ay kulang pa nga. Kaya kung maliit na nga, bakit pa natin ipagkakait?" he added.

The DSWD has identified the beneficiaries in a series of surveys and poverty mapping drives conducted under the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

In its census, the DSWD included other economic, social, health, housing information to better identify the indigents truly deserving of the pension.

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