MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) spokesperson Assistant Secretary Romel Lopez on Tuesday said the agency is on time when it comes to the distribution of the PHP500 monthly social pension to all indigent senior citizens.
Lopez made this clarification following reports that the DSWD is facing a cash aid distribution backlog of up to 466,000 seniors.
“There are no backlogs on social pension payouts to the more than 4.1 million indigent seniors,” he said in a radio interview.
Lopez said the 466,000 indigent senior citizens are “would-be beneficiaries” requiring additional funding before they are included in the social pension program.
“Baka po kasi nami-mix up natin na ang backlog ay may kinalaman una sa late na payout namin, hindi po. Up to now, ang atin pong payout when it comes to senior citizens ay on time. Wala po tayong backlogs when it comes to payment (Perhaps, there might be a mix-up regarding the backlog as it is not related to any delays in our payouts. Up to now, our payouts for senior citizens have been on time. We do not have any backlog in terms of payment),” he said.
Lopez said the funds the social pension program for 2023 only cover the more than 4.1 million senior citizens, each receiving PHP500 monthly stipends.
He said only around 93,000 of the over 4.1 million senior citizens have been removed from the list due to some reasons such as death of the beneficiary.
“Iyong discrepancy between sa waitlisted and nag-eexit ay masyadong malayo and that is the very reason kung bakit may backlog po tayo (The discrepancy between the waitlisted individuals and those exiting from the program is very far, and that is the primary reason why we currently have a backlog),” he added.
Lopez said the budget increase for the social pension program in 2024 will only cover the additional PHP500 to the current monthly stipend of the indigent senior citizens in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 11916 or an “Act Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens.”
The PHP500 additional pension, he said, will also be given starting next year once the proposed 2024 budget is approved.
RA 11916, which lapsed into law in July 2022, provides for a 100 percent increase in the monthly pension of indigent senior citizens from PHP500 to PHP1,000.
Lopez said eligible senior citizens should fall within the following criteria to receive social pension: frail, sickly or with a disability; without pension from the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) or from any sources of pension in government and private agencies; and without any permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from relatives to support their basic needs.
The social pension program aims to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of indigent senior citizens. (PNA)