P23 billion budget for indigent senior citizens’ pension looms

Mary Grace Padin - The Philippine Star
P23 billion budget for indigent senior citizens� pension looms
The DBM said the increase in budget would benefit a total of 3,796,791 indigent senior citizens next year.
Michael Varcas / File

MANILA, Philippines — The government is proposing to raise by 20 percent to P23 billion the budget for the provision of social pension to indigent senior citizens in 2019, according to the Department of Budget and Management.

The DBM said the increase in budget would benefit a total of 3,796,791 indigent senior citizens next year.

The Social Pension Program for Indigent Citizens (SPISC) provides an additional government assistance to indigent senior citizens in the form of a P500-monthly stipend to support their daily subsistence and other medical needs. It is part of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

According to the DBM, the program is being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in partnership with local government units (LGUs). The LGUs submit the list of indigent senior citizens to the DSWD field office based on the validation of the city or municipal Social Welfare Development Office.

Senior citizens are determined as qualified for the program if they are 60 years old and above, not receiving pension from the Social Security System or the Government Service Insurance System, not receiving any assistance from his or her relatives, and/or frail, sickly, or with disability.

Earlier, the DBM said social services remain the top priority of the administration, with a total proposed allocation of P1.377 trillion for next year.

This is equivalent to 36.7 percent of the P3.757 trillion proposed 2019 national budget, and will be used to fund social programs, particularly on human capital development, such as education, healthcare, and social protection.

The agency said the administration’s banner social programs, in particular, would get a total funding of P283 billion next year.

These include the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (P88.1 billion), National Health Insurance Program (P67.4 billion), Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education (P51 billion), Free Irrigation for Farmers (P38.9 billion), Basic Educational Facilities Program (P34.7 billion), and Rice Subsidy for Military and Uniformed Personnel (P2.9 billion).

Meanwhile, the DBM said the government would also continue to provide support to mitigate the transitory price increases brought about by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

These are the Unconditional Cash Transfer Program, with a proposed 2019 budget of P37.6 billion; the Pantawid Pasada Program, with a 2019 allocation of P3.9 billion; and PUV Modernization Program, with a proposed funding of P2.7 billion.

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