An enumerator from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) interviews a social pension beneficiary from Barangay Gabi, Compostela Mun, Compostela Valley during the conduct of a special validation of existing DSWD social pensioners. (FILE PHOTO)

An enumerator from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) interviews a social pension beneficiary from Barangay Gabi, Compostela Mun, Compostela Valley during the conduct of a special validation of existing DSWD social pensioners. (FILE PHOTO)

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) expresses its full support to Senate Bill 1865 that seeks to double the amount of social pension for indigent senior citizens from the current P500 to P1,000.

“We fully support the senate bill as it will really be a big help to our poor seniors – one of the sectors which feel the most impact of the increasing prices of our basic commodities,” DSWD Community Programs and Services Bureau Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Director Rosalie D. Dagulo said during a radio interview.

Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPISC) is the government’s assistance for poor seniors in the amount of P500 to augment their daily subsistence, including their medical needs.

Being implemented by DSWD, the program started in 2011 through Republic Act (RA) 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 to improve the living condition of eligible indigent senior citizens and to protect them from neglect and deprivation.

Dir. Dagulo acknowledged that indigent seniors in the country are in need for more assistance given that they have no other source of support.

Alam po natin na kasabay ng pagtanda ay ang pagkakaroon ng mga pangangailangan katulad ng gamot, gatas, at iba pang medical services. Kaya naman nais namin matulungan sila sa kanilang mga pangangailangan (We know that need for medicine, milk, and other medical services come along with old age. This is why we want to help augment their daily subsistence).  Thus, the Department supports any move to increase the assistance for our older persons,” the Director added.

Authored by Senator Sonny Angara, Senate Bill 1865 also seeks to remove the “frail, sickly or with disability” requirement to qualify for the social pension.  This means that, as long as the senior citizen does not have any contributory pension, he or she will be qualified for the social pension. This widens the coverage of beneficiaries to include all poor senior citizens in the country.

RA 9994 specifies that seniors qualified to receive the P500 monthly stipend under the social pension program of the DSWD are those who are frail, sickly or with a 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.

The DSWD’s social pension program currently covers 3.4 million indigent seniors as of latest report.

Moreover, DSWD Secretary Virginia N. Orogo thanked Sen. Angara for authoring a bill that would provide more aid to indigent seniors, enhancing the social protection system of the country.

“The DSWD welcomes any legislation that intends to provide additional help to our needy sectors, like our indigent older persons. We, in government, have a unified goal to improve or enhance our key social welfare and development programs to ensure that the needed care and assistance for our vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors are provided for,” the Secretary added. ###