By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers are seeking door-to-door delivery of social pension for indigent senior citizens.
La Union 2nd district Rep. Sandra Eriguel, and Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor made the proposal after the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) temporarily suspended the payouts of Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPISC) as part of the government’s efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
“If there is a way that the LGU (local government unit) can provide a scheme or a means to deliver ‘door-to-door’ social pensions for indigent senior citizens, along with their flu and pneumonia vaccinations, then that would be very much appreciated,” Eriguel, chairperson of the House Committee on Social Services, told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.
Under the SPISC program, qualified indigent senior citizens receive a monthly stipend of P500 to help augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.
Eriguel proposed the early release of the remaining social pension for the rest of the year to financially aid the indigent senior citizens during the enhanced community quarantine.
“If their remaining social pension collection for the rest of the year could be advanced, then that would be the best present we could give our dear seniors,” she proposed.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista earlier noted that in 2019, almost four million senior citizens benefitted from the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPISC).
Eriguel said the enhanced community quarantine was imposed for the safety of the public, particularly the vulnerable sectors.
“We should abide and cooperate with the directive of the President as well as the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) for the time being because it is for the good of everyone, most especially so because senior citizens are the most vulnerable sector to this dreaded virus,” she said.
Defensor, chairperson of the House Committee on Public Accounts, said the government should find ways to provide social pension to indigent elderly without violating the measures laid out for enhanced community quarantine.
“Now more than ever, the indigent seniors need support for their needs including medicine. They can still send in coordination with the LGUs and barangays to the respective residences without social contact. All LGUs have Social Welfare Departments,” he said.
The DSWD announced on Monday that it is temporarily suspending “some activities of its programs and services” that require meeting or gathering of beneficiaries and other stakeholders from March 15 to April 14.
These include “the payouts of Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens and Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT); Listahanan enumeration; and activities of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) particularly the administration of Social Welfare and Development Indicator (SWDI).”
The “over-the-counter pay-outs and distribution of cash cards; activities in Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, Offsite Serbisyo, Emergency Shelter Assistance (ESA), Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS); and service delivery assessments” were also temporarily cancelled.
Department Advisory Number 1 titled, “Guidelines for the Prevention, Control, and Mitigation of the Spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in the DSWD Offices, Attached and Supervised Agencies” was issued following President Duterte’s directive to further control the spread of COVID-19) in the country.
Bautista earlier assured the public that “social amelioration will not stop” amid the outbreak of COVID-19.
“It is during these trying times that the Department shows its compassionate care to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized,” he said, while recognizing “that health is more valuable than anything else.”