Government will hike to P1.54 billion next year its budget for the pension of senior citizens, a House leader said today
As a result, 47,000 seniors will be added to the 185,914 of their colleagues currently receiving P500 a month in financial assistance, House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said.
Tañada explained that the increase in the budget of the “Social Pension for Indigent Filipino Senior Citizens ” program, from P1.2 billion this year, is included in the proposed P56.2 billion budget of the Department of Social Welfare of Development for next year.
While the number of target beneficiaries – 232,868 – is “impressive” by Tañada’s admission, the Quezon lawmaker said this should be increased to accommodate more qualified seniors.
To be able do this, the executive branch “can draw from its discretionary powers to infuse more funds , using savings and freed accounts, for this program during the budget execution phase,” Tañada explained.
At present, only those 77 years old and above are enrolled in the program. “If there’s budget space, then perhaps we can lower the age threshold to bring in more seniors in need of government aid,” Tañada said.
“As more funds become available, we can expand the list of beneficiaries. The important thing is that there is an irreversible and steady increase in the annual budget of this program,” Tañada said
The social pension program is provided under Republic Act 9994, popularly known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Under the law , the pension can only be extended to indigent senior citizens who are frail, sickly, and disabled; without any regular source of income or support from any member of the family; and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies.
The current roster of beneficiaries was taken from the results of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the DSWD, the national poverty database .