DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on the signing of IRR of the Centenarians Act of 2016, discuss updates on Social Pension

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo today helped lead the signing of the IRR of the Centenarians Act of 2016. The law was signed on June 23, 2016.

The Centenarians Act covers Filipinos who have reached 100 years old, whether residing in the Philippines or abroad. They will be receiving official recognition from the President for their longevity, and given the Centenarian Gift. The law also declares the first Sunday of October of every year as National Respect for Centenarians Day.

"The IRR is a product of hard work: it went through a long series of consultations with various government agencies and civil society organizations. The IRR contains the provisions on Centenarian Gift to be given to Filipinos residing in and outside the country, in recognition of the longevity of their lives that will come from the available funds of DSWD. These will be accompanied by Letter of Felicitation from the President of the Philippines. Posthumous awards will be given to deceased centenarians. Additional cash incentives will also be given by local government units, with due consideration to any local ordinance granting similar incentives for centenarians," she said.

Sec. Taguiwalo said that to fulfill the promise of the law, careful considerations had to be given to the documentary requirements.

"We all know that many of our elderly were born decades before us may not always have birth certificates, much less passports. This situation often holds true even for those who have been recently born, especially those from remotest areas. We also do not want them to stand in queues and then fail to be recognized because of the absence of legal documents that some of them may never have had.

"As such, the IRR provides that in the absence of birth certificates or passports, centenarians can submit other government issued documents as proof of their age. The Centenarians Act is a momentous legislation we want actively enforced. Time is of the essence in implementing the law because we want the intended beneficiaries to enjoy the centenarian gift," she added.

Indigent Senior Citizens Pension Fund

In the meantime, Sec. Taguiwalo also shared information on the status of the department's Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens. She said that the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens total budget allottment for CY 2016 is PhP8,711,203,000 which has a target beneficiary of 1,368,941 indigent senior citizens ages 60 and above. Of this target beneficiaries, 83.47% or 1,148,538 senior citizens have already received their stipend. In Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Social Pension pay-out for a total of 71,087 target beneficiaries started in August 6, 2016 and is still on-going until the 2nd week of September 2016.

Out of the PhP8,711,203 total budget for 2016, PhP5,166,181,674.87 or 62.41 % was already utilized excluding Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Sixteen Field Offices of DSWD with an allotment of PhP7,829,298,000 has already utilized 64.85% or PhP 5,077,526,000. It has also used 19.78% or 88,655,674.87 of 448,149,170.00 total allotment for administration cost.

In ARMM 50% or PhP215,849,178 of PhP433,755,830.00 its total allotment has already been utilized. The Social Pension fund for ARMM is withdrawn from the DSWD Central Office by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) downloaded to the Office of the Regional Governor.

All regions uses three delivery schemes for the Social Pension pay-outs namely; Funds fransferred to the LGU, Cash advances of Field Offices (FO) Special Disbursing Officers(SDOs), and Funds transferred to service providers e.g., PhilPost and Philippine Veterans Bank.

Sec. Taguiwalo also mentioned that DBM has already issued the 2017 National Expenditure Program (NEP) stating the amount of PhP17,940,258,000 for Social Pension for a total target of 2,809,542 indigent senior citizens.

"Our Social Pension Program's objective is to augment the needs of our senior citizens who have no insurance, lacks any financial means to support themselves, and does not receive any financial support from their family. They are the ones abandoned, neglected, or their families unable to support them. The least we can do is to ensure the timely delivery of their social pension and continue to make our different programs available for them," Sec. Taguiwalo said.

Source: Philippine Information Agency