THE P25 billion additional pension for the indigent senior citizens must be included in the proposed 2023 budget.
This is the appeal of the Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel to the Executive department which is now preparing the National Expenditure Program (NEP) to be submitted to Congress for further scrutiny and approval.
The measure raising the monthly pension of indigent seniors from P500 to P1,000 earlier lapsed into a new law — Republic Act No. 11916 — without President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s signature.
“We are hoping that the P25 billion will be factored into the budget bill that the Palace is scheduled to submit to Congress on August 22,” Pimentel said.
“Government has no choice but to provide funds to pay for the pension increase,” Pimentel added..
The veteran solon said the allowance of poor seniors should be augmented so that they can meet their daily subsistence, including health maintenance needs, considering the soaring cost of food and other basic commodities.
Pimentel explained that under Section 25 of the Constitution, “Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government as specified in the budget.”
“Congress can cut the budget, but we can’t increase it, so it would be better if the budget tendered to Congress already includes the additional P25 billion,” Pimentel said.
Funding for the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens (SPPISC) is lodged in the annual budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The SPPISC has an allocation of P25 billion this year, which is enough to pay for the P500 monthly pension of 4.1 million indigent seniors identified by the DSWD.
The increase in the monthly pension to P1,000 means that another P25 billion would be needed.
The DSWD pays out the monthly pension based on three priority age groups, with the oldest seniors aged 80 years old and above getting first priority. Seniors aged 70 to 79 years old get second priority, while those aged 65 to 69 receive third priority.