By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV is now pushing for an increase in the social pension of senior citizens and expand the program’s coverage to include the more than three (3) million senior citizens who are not receiving any pension at all.
Aquino, in filing Senate Bill No. 2142, seeks to amend provisions in the Republic Act 7432, as amended by RA 9257 and further amended by RA 9994 or the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.”
“Our senior citizens have broadly contributed to the development of our nation. It is time for us to return their sacrifices by ensuring that they are cared for in their old age,” Aquino said in the explanatory note of his bill.
Quoting a study conducted by the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), the senator noted that social pension constituted on average almost one-third of household income used for food, medical expenses and other household bills.
Unfortunately, Aquino said that based on the same study, only 32 percent or 2.5 million of the eight million senior citizens in the country receive social pension of only P500 a month.
Thirty-eight (38) percent, or roughly more than three million, do not receive any pension at all, the senator pointed out.
“Among the 1.5 million Social Security System (SSS) pensioners, less than half receives not more than P3,400 a month,” he said.
The lawmaker said many senior citizens are forced to rely on the modest incomes of their families who are struggling to make a living due to inadequate or lack of a pension.
Under the bill, the government is mandated to provide a monthly social pension of P1,000 to all senior citizens who do not have social pension or receive less than P3,000 monthly pension.
“When older people receive a pension, they have a say on how they spend their income,” Aquino said.
“This allows much greater agency, autonomy and dignity than when they have to depend on others for their need,” he further stressed.