By Mario Casayuran
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara has asked his colleagues in Congress to pass his bill that seeks to double the amount of social pension from the current P500 to P1,000, and to widen the coverage of beneficiaries to include all poor senior citizens.
‘’We must ensure that every Filipino senior citizen receives this well-deserved benefit that will help them meet their daily needs,’’ Angara, the son of the “father of the senior citizens law”, the late senate president Edgardo J. Angara, said.
The younger Angara expressed his request as the country celebrates Grandparents’ Day today. He pointed out that there are many senior citizens who do not have social pensions from government
He cited data from the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) showing that only 33 percent or 2.9 million of the estimated 8.7 million elderly population are covered by contributory pensions such as the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Social Insurance System (GSIS).
Of the 5.8 million senior citizens with no contributory pension, only 3.4 million are currently covered by the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
To be eligible for the DSWD’s social pension program, which grants P500 every month, the senior must be frail, sickly or with disability; do not receive pension from state-run pension agencies; and do not have a permanent source of income or financial support from family or relatives.
This leaves 2.4 million elders with no pension at all.
Angara’s Senate Bill 1865 removes the “frail, sickly or with disability” requirement.
“Under our proposed measure, as long as the senior citizen does not have any contributory pension, he or she will be qualified for the social pension.
“Moreover, since the health expenses of seniors are generally more costly, we aim to double the amount of social pension from P500 to P1,000 a month, the lawmaker from Aurora said.