Another measure has been filed in the 18th Congress for the purpose of helping senior citizens endure the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Bill (HB) no.7266, which Congressman Rufus Rodriguez authored, amends Republic Act (RA) No. 9994, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. The law fixes the monthly stipend at P500 and provides very restrictive qualifications for seniors entitled to it.
Through his bill, Rodriguez wants to double to P1,000 the allowance being received by seniors under RA No.9994. “P500 a month is not much. It’s not even enough for basic maintenance medicines,” he said.
He said only 29 percent of the 7.5 million to eight million senior Filipino citizens receive the allowance “because the law is very restrictive.”
Under the law, a senior citizen can qualify for the stipend if he is “frail, sickly, or with disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his/her relatives to support his/her basic needs, as determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development."
“Because of these restrictions, millions of senior citizens are being deprived of the social pension they are entitled to,” said Rodriguez, who represents Cagayan de Oro's 2nd district.
Aside from doubling the stipend, his bill also removes the law’s restrictive provision.
It does away with the phrase “frail, sickly and with disability” and without pension or assistance from relatives. These requirements have eliminated countless seniors from receiving even the P500.
“The objective of the law is to recognize the rights of senior citizens to take their proper place in society and make it a concern of the family, community and government, and to give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of the elderly and their full participation in society,” he said.
The Mindanao solon said that all senior citizens should receive the proposed P1,000 monthly allowance from the government.
The only qualification the Rodriguez bill would impose on a recipient is that he/she should not be receiving pension from any public or private pension of more than P4,000 a month. This is an initial amount which can be gradually increased to be able to to give to more seniors in the future.
Rodriguez had earlier urged the Social Security System to release the additional P1,000 in the monthly pension of private sector retirees.