Some 301 Valenzuelano senior citizens received their social pension of PhP 1,500 in for the first quarter of 2013.
According to Corazon Tamondong of the Office of Senior Citizens’ Affairs (OSCA), there were 342 registered beneficiaries of the Social Pension Program in Valenzuela City but only 301 came or sent representatives to the payout day today, April 23, Tuesday at the Valenzuela City Astrodome.
Officers from the DSWD National Capital Region (NCR) distributed the money.
The Social Pension Program by the Department of Social Welfare and Development provides the qualified elderly a monthly financial assistance of P500 that is paid out every three months as mandated by the Republic Act 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
To be a program beneficiary, an elderly must be: 1. aged 77 years old and above; 2. frail, sickly, or disabled; 3. without a regular source of income or support from family members; 4. not a pensioner of any public or private agency, such as the GSIS and the SSS.
Beneficiaries of the program are identified through the National Household Targeting System of the DSWD. Senior citizens who are not yet enrolled at the program may apply at the OSCA.
The Social Pension is one of the programs of the DSWD that are exempted from the election-related ban described in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Resolution No. 9585, which prohibits the release of public funds by government agencies from March 29 to May 13.
The resolution exempts from the ban the salaries of personnel and other "normal and routine expenses".
“Considered kasi siyang normal and routine expenses. (The social pension is considered a normal and routine expense)” said DSWD NCR Information Officer Jane Casimiro.
Not enough, but better than nothing
For some beneficiaries, the PhP 500 stipend is not enough.
It could barely defray the cost of Lucita Villamor’s medicines. Villamor, 81, a resident of Barangay Pariancillo Villa, was among the senior citizens who were present at the payout. Recuperating from pneumonia, her medicines cost as much as PhP 2,000 per month.
With frail health and a disabled 71-year-old husband, Villamor has no means of income and relies on whatever her nephews and nieces could hand her.
“Wala akong sariling anak. Nagpalaki ako ng apat na pamangkin na lahat ay nakapagtapos ng kolehiyo. Pero may kanya-kanya na silang pamilya kaya nakakahiya namang manghingi. (They all have families of their own now, so it embarrasses me to ask them for money)” she said.
“Kaya mas mabuti na ito kaysa wala,” (So this is better than nothing) she said, referring to the social pension.
Besides the national government-funded social pension, other supports are available for Valenzuelano senior citizens. The city government has its own programs for senior citizens, including Dalaw ni Doc kay Lolo and Lola, which sends physician to houses of the sick elderly. Financial assistance for medicines and burial, as well as free canes and wheelchairs, are also available through the City Social Welfare and Development and the Special Projects Office.