The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE), and other senior citizens’ associations will continue to lobby for the national implementation of the Universal Social Pension for all senior citizens.

This was the message emphasized by the DSWD and COSE during the Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda (SUN) Awards, the culminating activity of Elderly Filipino Week held  on October 8 at the Ramon Magsaysay Auditorium, Social Security System, Quezon City.

Now on its 27th year, the annual awards organized by COSE recognizes the important contributions and services of older persons to society. The 10 outstanding older persons were chosen  from the sectors of farmers, women,  health workers, persons with disability, and tribal communities.

The SUN is a fitting tribute to exemplary older persons who despite being in their twilight years continue to serve others in their respective communities. This year’s awardees are: Eduardo Albonia, 79; Anita A. Castor, 64; Bandayan C. Danwata, 79; Esperanza A. Escoton, 72; Angelina B. Ipong, 72; Josef A. Feliciano, 71; Erlinda G. Libor. 76; Salvacion L. Garcia, 64; Leonita L. Labitag, 73; and Cecilia C. Ruiz, 80.

In her message, Director Ma. Alicia S. Bonoan reiterated the Department’s support for the older persons sector.

“Nagkakaisa tayo na ang social protection programs ay para sa lahat ng bulnerableng sector, kasama na dito ang mga senior citizens (We all agree that social protection programs is for all vulnerable sectors, including senior citizens.)

“Posibleng maipatupad ang Universal Pension kung mayroon tayong sapat na pondo. Ang kapakanan ng mga nakatatanda, lalo na ng mga mahihirap na senior citizens ay nananatiling prayoridad ng DSWD (It is possible to implement Universal Pension if we have the funds. The welfare of older persons, especially the poor senior citizens, remains as one of the priorities of DSWD).”

The need to implement the Universal Social Pension for Senior Citizens was also highlighted during the Talakayan, one of the activities during the week-long celebration held last October 4 at SM North Skydome.

Senior citizen pensioners

According to COSE, only 17% of senior citizens receive the P500 social pension even if majority or 54% do not receive any pension at all. In the meantime, among those who receive pensions from either the SSS, GSIS, or from military service, only a third of 34% receive less than P2,000 a month, while more than half or 52% receive less than P3,000.

“We have to think of those in the middle, the senior citizens who are neither rich nor poor, and are not enjoying any form of pension. Should anything happen to them or in the event of an emergency or calamity, they could easily slide into the indigent category,” stated Aura Sevilla of COSE.

DSWD OIC-Secretary Emmanuel A. Leyco batted for the implementation of the Universal Pension and additional benefits for senior citizens in his message during the kick-off activity of EFW held last October 1 at SM Mall of Asia.

OIC-Sec. Leyco also thanked the Department’s partner agencies, LGUs, and senior citizens’ organizations for ensuring the success of the week-long celebration. Moreover, he mentioned the programs the DSWD is implementing for older persons such as the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens, and the Department’s continuing advocacy for the enactment of legislative measures benefiting the sector, like the Anti-Elderly Abuse Bill and House Bill 3934 in the House of Representatives. House Bill 3934 calls for an increase in the monthly pension of DSWD senior citizen beneficiaries from P500 to P2,000 to augment their daily subsistence and medical needs.

For 2017, the social pension program’s budget allocation is P17.9 billion covering 2.8 million indigent senior citizens aged 60 years old and above. For 2018, the proposed budget of the program is P19.2 billion for three million indigent senior citizens.

DSWD, as chair of the National Steering Committee, led the celebration from October 1-7 with this year’s theme “Pagkilala sa Kakayahan, Ambag at Paglahok ng mga Nakatatanda sa Lipunan.” ###