Tañada: More Support for Seniors in the 2013 Budget Proposal

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 .