A bill has been filed seeking to raise to P2,000 the monthly pension of poverty-stricken senior citizens who are at least 70 years old, House Bill 2653, introduced by House deputy minority leader and Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr., proposes to amend the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 that currently provides a straight P500 monthly stipend to all indigent Filipinos 60 years old and above.
In battling for the passage of his bill, Campos invoked the mandate of the 1987 Constitution for the State “to care for the elderly through just programs of social security, and to provide improved quality of life for all.”
“An allowance of P2,000 per month, or P24,000 per annum, would serve as a bigger helping hand to the destitute seniors who are at least 70 years old, and who have absolutely no one else to turn to for financial aid,” he said.
Campos said that under the law, Congress is supposed to review the monthly subsidy for impoverished seniors every two years for a possible upward revision. “Yet, we have not raised the pension in the last six years,” he said.
Campos’ proposal came as the national government prepares to spend some P17.94 billion next year for the P500 monthly (or P6,000 yearly) grant of hard up seniors.
The amount, contained in the 2017 General Appropriations Act that the House and the Senate passed recently, is double the P8.71 billion that government is spending this year for the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens Program.
Funding has been doubled because government has also doubled the targeted senior citizen-beneficiaries, from 1.4 million this year to 2.8 million in 2017, according to a Department of Social Welfare and Development report to Congress.
Under the law, the DSWD is mandated to ensure that the P500 monthly stipend is given directly to beneficiaries.
In case the beneficiaries are not capable of receiving the stipend for health or safety reasons, the DSWD may engage the services of money remittance companies accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and other secure means of transferring the money to the recipients.
Indigent seniors refer to all Filipinos who are 60 years old and above who are without regular pension from the Social Security System or the Government Service Insurance System, or lacking permanent source of income, compensation, or regular and appropriate financial assistance from relatives.