The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has released the cash stipends of some 1,368,941 indigent senior citizens nationwide for the period January to June 2016 amounting to P5,034,219,741.43 under the Social Pension Program.
The program is mandated by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Under the program, indigent senior citizens aged 60 years old and above receive P500 a month of cash assistance.
Aside from the age requirement, qualified beneficiaries are senior citizens who are frail, sickly, or have disabilities; are not receiving pension from Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), or Veterans Pension; and do not have a permanent source of income or regular support from relatives.
Beneficiaries receive their pension every 1st month of every quarter (January, April, July and October) through three modes such as conduct of pay-outs by DSWD, fund transfer to local government units, and door-to-door delivery in partnership with the Philippine Postal Corporation and the Philippine Veterans Bank, as initial service providers.
For the year 2016, the Department has allotted a total of P8,711,203,000 for the more than 1.3 million needy older persons.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said, “Ang mga nakatatanda sa ating panahon ang isa sa mga pinaka-bulnerableng sektor sa lipunan. Dumadami ang bilang ng napababayaan at nangangailangang magsikap mag-isa upang mabuhay kahit na ang ilan sa kanila ay nasa dapithapon na ng kanilang buhay (The sector of senior citizens is one of the most vulnerable sectors in society. The number of the elderly being neglected and left to survive on their own in their old age continues to increase).”
Lola Aida’s ‘s ‘door-to-door’ pension
One of those benefiting from the Social Pension is 77-year-old Aida Geacanida from Iloilo City who happily shared that she received her second quarter cash assistance amounting to P1,500 last July 07, 2016 through door-to-door delivery.
At her advanced age, Lola Aida is still selling mangoes and Santol beside the Iloilo City National High School (ICNHS) for her livelihood.
Her husband died because of liver disease, leaving her to fend on her own. Her son and daughters have already married and they live separately. They visit her, but not often.
Every 3 a.m., she goes to the market to buy bags of fruits to sell, then proceeds to ICNHS to put up her own fruit stand. She goes home at 5p.m. when her mangoes are all sold out.
She also performs hilot (massage) to add to her income.
She breaks down her P1,500 pension as follows: P1,000 as capital to buy mangoes, P500 to buy rice and other food supplies.
While Lola is happy because she receives cash from the government, the DSWD is aware that much still has to be done to help make the lives of senior citizens better. Many of them need medical assistance; while others need part-time or full-time care.
Sec. Taguiwalo said that that the coordination of government agencies is needed so that more services and benefits can be provided to senior citizens.
Sec. Taguiwalo stressed that under her administration “mapagkalinga, maagap, at may malasakit na serbisyo sa mamamayan (genuine compassion and prompt service)”
will be the focal banner of DSWD.
“Hinihikayat ko po ang ating mga senior citizens at ang kanilang mga anak na nag-aasist sa kanila na dumulog sa aming tanggapan at ilapit ang kanilang mga pangangailangan. Tulungan niyo po kami na kayo ay maabot (I urge our senior citizens and their children who assist them to approach our various offices nationwide for any assistance that they need. Help us to reach you),” Sec. Taguiwalo said.
Sec. Taguiwalo also disclosed that seniors who are not yet included in the program continue to seek assistance from the Department for possible inclusion.
Just recently, the Department received requests for inclusion in the program from 32 indigent senior citizens from Laguna province. The requests have been forwarded to concerned DSWD-Field Office for immediate assessment.
The Secretary vowed that the current DSWD management will exert all its best effort to reach out to those who may have been inadvertently left out in earlier program implementation.
The Secretary added that the Social Pension truly benefits poor senior citizens and that more can still be done especially in ensuring that nobody is left out and that delivery of the pension is timely.
Sec. Taguiwalo strongly appealed to the public “na makiisa sa layunin ng administrasyon para maabot ang lahat ng nangangailangan ng mga programa at serbisyong tunay na sasagot sa kahirapan sa lipunan (to support the Administration’s goal to make the programs and services accessible and truly responsive to the needs of the society’s poor).”