By Charissa Luci-Atienza
More than 192,000 indigent senior citizens have received their six months’ worth of social pension from the government nationwide, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Tuesday, April 28.
DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said a total of 192,874 beneficiaries of the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPISC) from 10 regions got their pension, amounting to P578.62 million. “Para naman sa social pension ng indigent senior citizens, 192,874 beneficiaries na ang nakatangggap ng kanilang ayuda na nagkakahalaga na P3,000 sa bawat semestre,” he said in a virtual press briefing.
(For the social pension of indigent senior citizens, 192,874 beneficiaries already received their pension which amounted to P3,000 per semester.)
“Sa kasalukuyan, nagkakahalaga na P573,622,000 ang naipahatid na sa Regions ng CAR, II, III, IV-B, V, VI, VII, X, XI, and CARAGA,” he noted.
(At present, a total of P573,622,000 has been distributed to Regions ng CAR, II, III, IV-B, V, VI, VII, X, XI, and CARAGA.)
Under the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPISC) program, qualified indigent senior citizens receive a monthly stipend of P500 to help augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs. There are 3.5 million SPISC beneficiaries, according to the DSWD.
Last week, DSWD Spokesperson Irene Dumlao said the DSWD has come up with a “clean list” of 3.5 million rightful beneficiaries after being directed by President Duterte to validate whether or not the almost 4 million indigent senior citizens who receive social pension from the government are deserving beneficiaries.
Dumlao said not all senior citizens will receive the monthly P500 social pension from the government. She said among the conditions set before senior citizens receive the pension are the following: they are frail and sickly; they are not receiving pension from SSS, GSIS, and other insurance companies; they are not receiving assistance from their immediate family members; and they do have not resources for their daily subsistence and basic needs.
She said those senior citizens who are not included in the list, but are eligible can still appeal to the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), their local governments and the nearest field office, which has jurisdiction over their areas, for assessment.
On Sunday, April 19, DSWD Undersecretary for Special Concerns Camilo Gudmalin disclosed that the Department has started distributing six months’ worth of social pension amounting to P3,000 to indigent senior citizens. He disclosed that the DSWD has transferred the social pension funds to its field offices for distribution to the pensioners nationwide. He noted that Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) already started the payout for 49,000 pensioners.
In a video message, Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Francisco G. Datol had disclosed that six months’ worth of social pension for this year will be released soon. He said the funds will soon be claimed by the senior citizens.
Datol had filed House Resolution No. 656 calling on the House of Representatives to look into the alleged “anomalous” and “illegal” delay or lack of disbursement of the social pension fund to senior citizens. He said P23 billion had been allocated for the program in 2019, which was supposed to benefit 3,796,791 indigent senior citizens.
He said about 1.57 million seniors have not received their social pensions for 2019, citing a report from the DSWD. “In 2019, 3,796,791 indigent seniors were supposed to receive their pensions. The DSWD report indicates that as of December 31, 2019, only 2,226,034 seniors received pension,” he said in an earlier statement.
In February this year, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista told the Manila Bulletin that there was a delay in the release of the social pension under SPISC. This was due to President Duterte’s directive to the DSWD to validate whether or not the almost four million indigent senior citizens who receive social pension from the government are deserving beneficiaries, following reports SPISC has been abused.
Bautista, in 2019, also said that almost 4 million senior citizens benefited from the SPISC.