By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) vowed on Thursday, April 30 to expedite the payout of the social pension to 3.5 million indigent senior citizens to help them augment their daily needs during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
It said the official list of social pensioners will be given to the local government units (LGUs) and that the DSWD Field Offices (FOs) will forge a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the distribution of the six months’ worth of social pension amounting to P3,000, specifically for the duration of ECQ “to ensure the efficient payout.”
“Other DSWD Field Offices (FOs) are now finalizing the fund transfer process with concerned LGUs for the immediate release of the stipend of remaining beneficiaries,” it said in a statement.
The DSWD disclosed that more than 227,000 indigent senior citizens have received their social pension for the first semester from January to June under its Social Pension (SocPen) Program, which is provided for under Republic Act No. 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010”.
A total of 227,876 SocPen beneficiaries from 10 regions got their pension, amounting to more than P683.6 million, as of April 29.
Among the regions that started the SocPen payout are Regions II (Cagayan Valley), III (Central Luzon), IV-B (Mimaropa), V (Bicol), VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), X (Northern Mindanao), XI (Soccksargen), and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
“Some DSWD FOs are also conducting cash payouts directly to the senior citizen-beneficiaries through their Special Disbursing Officers (SDO),” the DSWD said.
“However, the distribution schedules may depend due to the ongoing implementation of the enhanced community quarantine and other circumstances in the area,” it added.
Under SocPen, qualified indigent senior citizens receive a monthly stipend of P500 to help augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.
It is distributed on a semestral basis at P3,000 per semester or P500 per month for six months.
RA 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010” provides that seniors qualified to receive social pension are those who are frail, sickly or with disability; without any pension from other government agencies; and without a permanent source of income or source of financial assistance/compensation to support their basic needs.
“The Department assures the public that it will adhere to existing safety and health protocols in determining the best payout method to lessen the exposure of its beneficiaries and personnel to COVID-19,” the DSWD said.
There are 3.5 million SocPen beneficiaries in the country.
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.
She clarified that not all senior citizens will receive the monthly P500 social pension from the government, as RA 9994 sets the SocPen conditions.
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.