House committee approves substitute bill on P1,000 social pension for senior citizens

Published June 23, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Citing the need for urgency to give the elderly financial assistance especially during this time of pandemic crisis, the House Special Committee on Senior Citizens approved on Tuesday, June 23, a substitute bill granting a monthly P1,000 social pension to all Filipino senior citizens.

During a virtual hearing, the House panel chaired by Senior Citizens partylist Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. passed the bill, which was presented by Kabayan partylist Rep. Ron Salo, the chairman of the technical working group (TWG) that consolidated 23 bills expanding and increasing the social pension for the elderly.

Salo said the measure seeks to increase the monthly social pension from the current P500 to P1,000.

“The minimum would be P1,000 per month to be given as benefit to our senior citizens,” Salo said.

The bill amends Republic Act No. 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.”

It scraps the numerous conditions set by the law before a senior citizen receives the stipend.

The substitute measure entitles all Filipinos, whether receiving a pension from any pension provider to a monthly stipend amounting to P1,000 to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs. Expected to benefit from the bill are pensioners of Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

RA 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010” states that seniors who are 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.

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, one of the principal authors, thanked the Datol panel for passing the measure.

“Nasa pandemiya tayo ngayon, kailangan na kailangan talaga ng dagdag na ayuda ng ating mga elderly people. (We are in midst of pandemic, our elderly people badly need this additional aid)… Sana ay matanggap nila ang ayuda na ito sa immediate na panahon (I hope that they will receive this as soon as possible),” he said.

“I thank the Special Committee on Senior Citizens for passing this bill, and hopefully , we can bring this to the plenary the soonest possible time and for the plenary to approve this bill,” Zarate said.

He noted that there is a counterpart bill in the Senate.

“Hopefully, during the second regular session of our Congress the amendment to the social pension will be enacted into law,” he said.

Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Eufemia Cullamat also cited the panel’s effort to ease the plight of the senior citizens, even as she asked her colleagues to ensure that the aged indigenous peoples will benefit from the bill.

“In the distribution of social pension, I hope all indigenous peoples in the country will be included,” she said in Pilipino.

Under the bill, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is tasked to roster individuals that are eligible for the monthly social pension based on a central database which includes the Census of Population and Housing and a compilation of the beneficiaries of all pension providers.

“The SSS, GSIS, PGMC (Pension and Gratuity Management Center), and other pension providers shall provide the DSWD with access to their roster of beneficiaries every month for this purpose,” it said.

It also mandates the Philippine Statistics Authority to provide the DSWD timely access to pertinent data.

The measure provides that the DSWD, in consultation with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as well as other stakeholders “to review and when necessary, adjust the amount of social pension every two years after the effectivity of this Act, taking into account the various needs of senior citizens and relevant economic indicators as reported and published by pertinent government agencies and authorities.”

It provides that the social pension “shall not be less than the amount initially specified in this Act.”