4 in 10 Filipino elderly without pension — ILO

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Four in 10 Filipino senior citizens have no access to pension, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

“A majority of the elderly citizens of the country do not have income security; (they) do not have a pension, despite a significant increase in allocation,” the ILO said in a statement yesterday.

“Despite progress in recent years, the Philippines’ social protection system retains ‘serious gaps,’” the ILO noted.

This is in contrast to China, Thailand, Mongolia, Brunei Darussalam and Timor-Leste which have considerably expanded their coverage through the use of universal tax funded pensions.

Khalid Hassan, director of ILO Manila office, said many countries are prioritizing their social protection systems.

“We think this is a good time for the Philippines to follow the same path and extend protection to its elderly through the launch of a universal pension,” Hassan said.

The ILO noted that the pension gap in the country continues as life expectancy for Filipinos is rising on the average.

Between 2000 and 2015, life expectancy rose by five years, which is the fastest increase since the 1960s, it said.

“This makes the low pension coverage a particularly troubling problem, creating additional financial burdens for family, as the ratio between elderly parents and adult children rises,” the ILO said.

Early this year, the Duterte administration devised ways to increase benefit levels of senior citizens receiving contributory pension and to increase the social pension coverage of indigent senior citizens.

Social protection remains one of the major agenda in the country as reflected in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, launched in January this year.

Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) show that there are eight million senior citizens in the country. Only 2.8 million of them, however, are beneficiaries of the DSWD’s social pension for indigent seniors.

The Social Security System, on the other hand, has been paying out retirement benefits for 1.28 million members since March this year.

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