Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes (File photo courtesy of House Press and Public Affairs Bureau) 

MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Friday appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the budget department to tap the unprogrammed funds in the proposed 2023 national budget to finance the hike in the monthly social pension of indigent senior citizens, and the cash grants for waitlisted centenarians.

Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes made the appeal as the bicameral conference committee starts with its meeting to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the House of Representatives and the Senate in their respective budget versions.

"Please have mercy on over four million indigent seniors who have suffered for too long and given the best years of their lives for their family and country. The Unprogrammed Funds are the indigent seniors’ and centenarians’ last hope because those funds are a matter of survival and life-or-death for some," Ordanes said in a statement.

He said doubling the monthly pension from PHP500 to PHP1,000 would entail approximately PHP25,768,665,000 under Republic Act 11916, and about PHP70.4 million is needed for 704 unfunded cash grants for waitlisted centenarians.

Ordanes said the total budgetary requirement totaling PHP26.47 billion is only 4.5 percent of the PHP 588.16 billion Unprogrammed Funds in the proposed PHPP5.26 trillion national budget for 2023.

"This budget goes directly to indigent seniors. Senior Citizen Party-list and I are duty-bound and morally obligated to fight for the seniors until the very end of this budget cycle," he said. (PNA)

He said Congress must make good on the commitments made in the Centenarians Act and Republic Act 11916. 

"The Unprogrammed Funds is the remaining option left to us. The indigent seniors have suffered for too long and given the best years of their lives for their family and country," he said.

The DBM earlier said the unprogrammed funds are "standby appropriations" that will be used for "some unexpected expenses; additional support for infrastructure projects and social programs; support to FAPs (foreign-assisted projects), [and other programs such as] last mile schools program, procurement of vaccines and risk- management program."

"The Department of Budget and Management stands firm on its position of having no irregularities in allocating unprogrammed funds under the 2023 [proposed] National Expenditure Program (NEP)," it said. (PNA)