Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor on Sunday urged the Senate to pass a House bill seeking to double to P1,000 the monthly pension of 3.8 million indigent senior citizens.
“The bill is already with the Senate, after the House passed it in July. In fact, no less than Senate President Vicente Sotto III authored the counterpart Senate bill. Now would be a good time for the Senate to pass the bill while we are observing Elderly Filipino Week,” he said.
“We have a multitude of elderly Filipinos rearing their grandchildren whose parents have been driven to work overseas in search of greener pastures,” Defensor noted.
Meanwhile, at least 7,322 Filipinos who have reached 100 years old have already received their one-time P100,000 cash award from the national government since the passage of the Centenarians Law of 2016, the Anakalusugan lawmaker added.
“We in Congress are absolutely committed to sustain the funding for the P100,000 cash gift of all Filipinos who reach the age of 100 years old, whether residing in the Philippines or abroad,” he said.
A presidential proclamation designates Oct. 1 to 7 of every year as Elderly Filipino Week in honor of all citizens above 60 years of age. The nation also observes every first Sunday of October for senior citizens under the Centenarians Law or Republic Act No. 10868.
Defensor gave credit to the growing role of elderly Filipinos in nation-building.
“Countless elderly Filipinos also keep on working not only to support themselves, but also to help pay for the needs of their financially struggling children and grandchildren,” he said.
Under House Bill 9459, which has since been transmitted to the Senate, the existing P500 monthly pension for impoverished seniors shall be increased to P1,000.
“The P500 monthly allowance has been reduced into a pittance by the overall increase in the cost of living,” the party-list lawmaker said.
Once the bill is enacted, Defensor said, Congress would be compelled to double to P47 billion the yearly budget for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s social pension for indigent senior citizens.
“In the 2022 national budget, we have provided another P135.8 million in new appropriations to pay for the P100,000 cash bonus of 1,358 Filipinos who are expected to turn 100 years old next year,” the party-list representative said.
He said P135.8 million is lodged in the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that hands out the cash grant.