The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was prodded anew to “pull out all stops,” as Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva moved to ensure timely releases of increased monthly social pensions of indigent senior citizens.
Sen. Villanueva, principal sponsor of the recently passed enabling law embodied in the recently passed law mandating “Increased Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens Law,” asked the DBM to “pull out all the stops to ensure funding” in the increase of the monthly social pension of the country’s indigent senior citizens.
As enacted into law, the senator reminded “the proposed National Expenditure Program for 2024 appropriated P49.80-billion for the social pension of indigent seniors for their P1,000 per month stipend.
In a statement, Villanueva clarified that “for 2023, the social pension of indigent senior citizens disbursed remain at P500 per month despite the passage of the law doubling the amount last year.”
“Maawa naman po tayo sa ating mga senior citizens. Ibigay na po ang dagdag pension na dapat ay natatanggap na nila,” Villanueva pleaded on behalf of the intended beneficiaries.
At the same time, the lawmaker also wanted to know the priorities of the fund disbursers. “Bakit po ang flood control program na mayroong budget na P1.074 bilyon kada araw, ngunit hindi naramdaman ang epekto, ay madali po napopondohan, pero itong ayuda na kailangan na kailangan ng ating mga lolo at lola ay hirap na hirap po tayong hanapan ng pondo?”
At the same time, the senator noted that “under the 2023 General Appropriations Act, an amount of P 25.30 billion has been appropriated for the social pension of indigent senior citizens.”
“In addition to this,” Villanueva cited “a P25 billion item in unprogrammed funds was earmarked to cover the additional pension. Republic Act No. 11916, which was sponsored by Villanueva during the 18th Congress, mandates a 100 percent increase in the monthly pension—from P500 to P1,000—of the country’s indigent seniors, estimated at about 4.1 million to date.”
The law amended Republic Act 7432, the first Senior Citizens Act. During the budget briefing at the Senate, the DBM acknowledged that no funds have been released yet from the Unprogrammed Funds for the additional pension, which means that no indigent senior pensioner has received the increase this year.
“Our elderlies are pinning their hopes on the release of the Unprogrammed Funds to get their pension,” Villanueva conveyed, adding:”Sa mahabang panahon ng paglalaan ng lakas sa kanilang pamilya at sa bansa, bigyan naman po natin sila ng kaunting ginhawa.”