CAMARINES Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte has expressed the hope that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, before he leaves office by end-June, would give a “parting gift” to the country’s indigent senior citizens by signing into law an amendatory law doubling their monthly pension to P1,000.
One of its co-authors, Villafuerte, said this pro-elderly measure only needs President Duterte’s approval as both the Senate and the House of Representatives last week approved a consolidated version for submission to Malacañang.
“Filipinos have innate deep regard and respect for our elders. It is ingrained in our culture as well as reflected in our own Constitution where it is stated that it is familial duty to take care of our elderly.” Villafuerte said.
“The State, in turn, provides for the protection and social services of such a vulnerable group as the elderly,” Villafuerte pointed out.
However, he said, “although the Filipino elderly are valued and respected for their wisdom and experiences, they still encounter challenges to their daily living because of their old age.”
He said, “legislated measures have been provided by the State to provide for their safety and security, but, unfortunately, most of them face financial problems as they are unable to work for a living or have no monthly pension – or both. And with inflation and the ever-rising living standards, it is getting harder and harder for our senior citizens to live as comfortably as they can in their golden age.”
“Considering that financial support from pensions such as the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have proven not enough or insufficient, the increase in their monthly pension to P1,000 will somehow lighten the financial burden of our elders,” Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte pointed out that the Senate approved last May 30 its version (Senate Bill or SB 2506) of this proposal to increase the monthly pension of the elderly from P500 to P1,000.
The House then adopted the Senate-approved bill the day after on May 31, he said, to do away with the bicameral conference committee (bicam) process that would have required both chambers to hold bicam talks to reconcile both versions and come up with a consolidated bill before the 18th Congress formally adjourned sine die last June 4.
He said the consolidated bill provides options for the pension other than a cash payout, the transaction fee of which will no longer be charged to the beneficiary-seniors.
The final bill also transfers from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) the job of distributing the monthly pension to the beneficiary-senior citizens, Villafuerte said.
Villafuerte’s version of this proposal – House Bill (HB) 4650 – was one of the similar bills incorporated into the substitute bill (HB 9459) that the House approved on the third and final reading last August 2.
This consolidated bill on an “Act Increasing the Social Pension of Indigent Senior Citizens and Appropriating Funds Therefor” seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) 7432, which provided a universal social pension for senior citizens, and RA 9994 that expanded the Senior Citizens Act of 2010.