MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence Go has sought the immediate release of the lump sum of the six-month social pension of qualified indigent senior citizens to help them cope with the crisis brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.
In a statement, Go asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to immediately give the lump sum of indigent senior citizens so they could sustain their immediate needs as the community quarantine continues.
He made the call as he acknowledged that senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups who need to be protected amid the health crisis.
“Kaya nakikiusap rin ako na madaliin na ang pagbigay sa mga indigent senior citizens ng kanilang six-month lump sum social pension bilang dagdag na tulong sa panahon ng krisis (That’s why I am calling for the immediate release of the six-month lump sum of the senior citizens’ social pension to help them during this crisis),” Go said.
Citing 2016 data from DSWD, he said only 19.1 percent of senior citizens in the country are receiving pensions from the state-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS).
“Maliban sa mga poorest of the poor, kasama rin sa mga dapat mabigyan ng ayuda mula sa DSWD ang mga ‘vulnerable groups’ katulad ng mga senior citizens (Apart from the poorest of the poor, senior citizens who belong to vulnerable groups must get assistance from DSWD),” Go said.
The GSIS and SSS have already released the pension benefits of their members for April to ease the burden of senior citizens during the health crisis.
The DSWD, meanwhile, started on Wednesday the first-semester payout of its social pension program to attend to the needs of indigent senior citizens amid the pandemic.
Under DSWD’s social pension program, a monthly stipend of PHP500 is given to each indigent senior citizen to augment his or her daily subsistence and other medical needs.
As of April 29, about 227,876 indigent senior citizens from Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Davao, and the Cordillera region have received PHP3,000 each for the January to June period.
Go appealed for the senior citizens‘ understanding, assuring them that the government is doing its best to protect them and other vulnerable groups from catching Covid-19.
A member of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee monitoring the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Go urged all concerned agencies and local government units to “perfect the distribution system” of assistance for qualified senior citizens.
“Dapat na masiguro ng DSWD at iba pang ahensya ng gobyerno na hindi mapapabayaan ang mga senior citizens, lalo na yung mababa o walang kita, o may mga pamilyang sinusuportahan din (The DSWD and other government agencies must ensure that senior citizens, especially those who have no income or have families to support, are not neglected),” he said. (ia/PNA)