91,000 senior citizens will not receive social pension next year after DBM slashed SocPen budget

Published September 16, 2020, 9:36 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Some 91,000 indigent senior citizens identified as “wait-listed” beneficiaries will not receive their stipend next year after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) slashed the budget of  Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the Social Pension (SocPen) program.

This was bared by DSWD Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova during the House Committee on Appropriations’ deliberations on the DSWD’s proposed budget for 2021, after Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, and ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro expressed concern over the P816.065 million slashed from the SocPen program.

“Mayroon po tayong mga wait-listed na around 91,000 senior citizens na nag-aantay na mabigyan ng grant. Kung hindi po maibibigay sa amin itong P816.065 million, hindi po namin sila maisasali para sa 2021,” Relova said.

(We have around 91,000 senior citizens who are wait-listed, who are waiting to receive the grant. If the P816.065 million will not be given to us, we cannot include them for 2021.) 

She said their original proposed budget for SocPen program is P24.003 billion, but the DBM only approved P23.187 billion.

According to the DSWD official, part of the slashed budget is around P157 million intended to cover the financial expense for the cash cards to be distributed to the seniors, as well as the administrative cost. 

She noted that for 2021, they are targeting to distribute stipend to around 3, 789,874 indigent senior citizens.

Zarate called on his colleagues to consider augmenting the SocPen budget of the DSWD for the 2021. 

Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza also urged the DSWD to address the “delayed disbursement” of the social pension, which is distributed on a semestral basis at P3,000 per semester or P500 per month for six months.

Relova said for 2019 , 3, 300, 090 indigent elderly have received their social pension, which translates  to 86.92 percent of the total beneficiaries.

“For 2020, during the first semester , the first six months, 2, 828, 215 received their pension, roughly around 74. 63 percent of the total beneficiaries,” she added. 

For this year,  some 3.78 million indigent seniors are targeted to receive the social pension.