By Ellson Quismorio
House Appropriations Committee Chairman, Davao City 1st district Rep. Karlo Nograles has vowed to increase funding for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Social Pension Program (SPP) in order to expand its coverage among indigent senior citizens.
Nograles said that “more of our lolos and lolas in the provinces can be given a helping hand by a grateful and compassionate government” through such expanded coverage.
Specifically, the House leader is batting for the SPP coverage of Filipinos who are at least 60 years old.
“This pension is a huge help to the daily lives of elderly indigents, and I believe that we really need to expand the coverage of our pension program. Our senior citizens deserve a special place in our society. They have done their share and raised one, sometimes even two generations of our countrymen.
“By the time they hit their sixties, our lolos and lolas have needs, and this pension can help them meet their needs,” said Nograles, who now sports the monicker “Ang Probinsyano.”
The pension worth P500 monthly is provided under Republic Act (RA) No.9994, also known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
But due to shortage of funds, only senior citizens who are aged 70 and above are allowed to avail of the SPP.
As head of the Appropriations panel, Nograles said that he would work doubly hard to allocate more funds for the pension program in the 2019 national budget.
According to the DSWD, some 2.8 million indigent senior citizens benefited from the Social Pension Program last year from a budget of 17.1 billion pesos.
For 2018, the target beneficiaries were raised to three million indigent senior citizens thanks to an increased budget of 19.2 billion pesos.
The pension is supposed to be given to seniors who are frail, sickly or have disabilities. The beneficiaries must not be the recipient of any other pension from government agencies and must not have a permanent source of income or source of financial assistance and compensation to support their basic needs.
“With the House deliberations for the 2019 national budget coming soon, I will personally see to it that the allocation for the Social Pension Program for senior citizens is significantly increased so that it could cover more of our senior probinsyanos,” said Nograles.
“Gusto natin maging kumportable ang buhay ng mga lolo at lola natin, lalo na ang mga nakatira sa probinsya (We want our grandfathers and grandmothers–especially those living in the provinces–to have comfortable lives),” added the solon, who is being groomed by the administration party for the 2019 Senate race.
The House Appropriations Committee is burdened with the crucial task of looking for sources of funds to finance the implementation of government programs and projects.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to submit to Congress the proposed 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP) later this month. The NEP will be made the basis of the House budget deliberations, which commence in August.