Angara wants social pension doubled
MANILA --- Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the passage of a bill that seeks to double the amount of social pension from the current P500 to P1,000, and to widen the coverage of beneficiaries to include all poor senior citizens. “Isang napakalungkot na katotohanan na marami pa rin sa ating mga lolo at lola ang hindi nakatatanggap ng social pension mula sa gobyerno. We must ensure that every Filipino senior citizen receives this well-deserved benefit that will help them meet their daily needs,” said Angara, the son of the “Father of the Senior Citizens Law”, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara. Based on the data from the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), only 33% or 2.9 million of the estimated 8.7 million elderly population are covered by contributory pension such as the Social Security System, the Government Social Insurance System, and other pension systems. Of the 5.8 million senior citizens with no contributory pension, only 3.4 million are currently covered by the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). To be eligible for the DSWD’s social pension program, which grants P500 every month, the senior must be frail, sickly or with disability; do not receive pension from state-run pension agencies; and do not have a permanent source of income or financial support from family or relatives. This leaves 2.4 million elders with no pension at all. Angara’s Senate Bill 1865 removes the “frail, sickly or with disability” requirement. “Under our proposed measure, as long as the senior citizen does not have any contributory pension, he or she will be qualified for the social pension. “Moreover, since the health expenses of seniors are generally more costly, we aim to double the amount of social pension from P500 to P1,000 a month. Dapat ay siguruhin natin na ang lahat sa kanila ay mayroong sapat na ayuda para pambili ng kanilang mga gamot at iba pang pangangailangan. Layunin natin na ang bawat lolo at lola ay makapamuhay nang komportable,” the lawmaker said, as the country celebrates Grandparents’ Day on Sunday. Republic Act 7432 or the Senior Citizens Act of 1993 authored by the late Angara granted the elderly 20% discount, while RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 authored by the younger Angara provided for the 12% value-added tax (VAT) exemption and the social pension provision. The senator is hoping that Congress will bridge the gap in the social protection system by further expanding the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.