Thursday, February 4, 2016

Indigent seniors already receiving cash aid through social pension – DSWD

Amid the proposal of Vice President Jejomar Binay to include senior citizens, age 60 to 64 years old, in the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman clarified that indigent members of the elderly sector are already covered by the Social Pension Program of the agency, as prescribed by the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Under the program, indigent seniors receive a monthly cash grant of P500, which is distributed quarterly.

“Pantawid Pamilya is essentially an investment in our student’s future. It is for our children. The Social Pension Program, on the other hand, specifically addresses the medical and other personal needs of our indigent elders. That is the difference between the two programs,” Sec. Soliman.

In the first year of its implementation, only those 77 years old and above were covered by the Social Pension Program due to the limited funds approved by the legislature.
Cognizant of the needs of seniors, DSWD has been expanding the program yearly. For 2016, indigents 60 years old and above, who meet the criteria, can already benefit from the program.

Qualified to receive monthly pension are seniors who are: frail, sickly, or with disability; without pension from Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Armed Forces & Police Mutual Benefit Association, Inc. (AFPMBAI), and other insurance companies; and, without any permanent source of income or regular support from his/her relatives.

This year, a total of 1,368,941 seniors nationwide are covered by the program with a budget allocation of P8,711,203,000.

Meanwhile, on the remarks of the Vice President that audit observations in the Pantawid Pamilya continue to be reported by the Commission on Audit (COA), Sec. Soliman reiterated that the concerns were already resolved with the COA.

Sec. Soliman stressed that the auditors were merely seeking documentation of program implementation and did not state actual misuse or misappropriation of funds.

“The COA audit observations do not mean that there were irregularities. These are part of the government’s check-and-balance mechanisms to enhance its operations,” Sec. Soliman pointed out.

On the Vice President’s statement that there are a lot of unqualified recipients in the program, Sec. Soliman clarified that Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries are identified through the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) or Listahanan, which is a database that shows who and where the poor are in the country, and not through local or national government officials. DSWD)

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