MANILA—A lawmaker lauded the move of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to nearly double the social pension for indigent senior citizens (SPIC) to P49.8 billion in the proposed 2024 national budget.
In a statement on Tuesday, Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. said doubling the funding for SPIC would cover the 100 percent increase in the monthly stipend of indigent senior citizens, as provided for in the new law granting additional benefits to the elderly.
Villafuerte said the proposed increase in pension fund for indigent seniors fulfills the President’s pledge in his second State of the Nation Address to ensure that all Filipinos—no matter their age, gender, groups, religion, and physical condition—“will be protected and provided aid.”
“Given the still elevated inflation, the decision by President Marcos to double the P500 monthly stipend to P1,000, in keeping with Republic Act 11916, will mean a bigger financial assistance for our indigent senior citizens who grapple with the ever spiraling cost of living,” he said.
Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman earlier told lawmakers that the proposed budget for the SPIC program will go up from this year’s outlay of P25.3 billion.
She said the SPIC program allocation is part of the total budget for the Social Services sector, which has been allotted P2.183 trillion or 37.9 percent under the proposed 2024 National Expenditure Program.
Villafuerte, however, appealed to the Department of Budget and Management to “scour” the 2023 General Appropriations Act and other possible sources for adequate funding to bankroll this year the 100 percent increase of indigent seniors’ monthly pension.
“Our indigent senior citizens can look forward to a bigger financial relief each month beginning 2024 at the least, as the President, true to his commitment to protect the purchasing power of our people, especially the highly vulnerable ones, has dramatically increased the pension fund of our senior citizens to almost P50 billion,” he added. PNA
Image credits: PNA/Ben Briones