In 2023, some 299,737 poor senior citizens in the Central Visayas region received a PHP 500 monthly stipend from the Social Pension program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development that helped them with their need for maintenance medicine or food subsistence.

Conchita Lasconia of Brgy. Pooc, Talisay City, Cebu, a program beneficiary,
during a visit to her household by DSWD field staff.

With the implementation of Republic Act 11916, the program provides a 100% increase in the monthly stipend beginning the first quarter of 2024. Each will now receive PHP1,000 or PHP 12,000 annually.

DSWD issued Memorandum Circular No. 17 to fast-track the distribution of the increased stipend from quarterly to semestral payout, which will include three delivery schemes, namely, cash advances of Special Disbursing Officers (SDOs) of the agency, door-to-door delivery for beneficiaries in critical conditions, and the Transfer of Funds (TOF) to local government units, which mobilizes its logistics and workforce.

Among the schemes, the TOF will enable fast and convenient distribution of stipends, considering the limitations on administrative costs and the workforce of DSWD field offices. However, DSWD will consult with the LGUs for their preference for DSWD to continue the payouts or adapt the scheme, considering the beneficiaries’ prevailing status, physical conditions, and geographical situation.

These limitations directed DSWD 7 to start a series of consultation dialogues with different stakeholders, including mayors, local social welfare and development officers, city/municipal accounts, and officers of senior citizen affairs, to orient them on the importance of fund transfer.

On February 20–21 and 22–23, 2024, the Social Pension program started the consultation dialogue in the south and north areas of Cebu province, respectively. DSWD 7 will conduct the same activity in Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor provinces.

In 2023, some 80 LGUs have already been using the fund transfer scheme: 30 in Cebu, 26 in Bohol, 19 in Negros Oriental, and 5 in Siquijor.

An additional 42 LGUs have already adopted the fund transfer for 2024. Starting in January, these additional LGUs will begin the distribution of the increased monthly stipend at their respective localities. Getafe (Bohol), Tudela (Cebu), and Bacong (Negros Orientals) are among the first to start in 2024.

Mayor Greman B. Solante of Tudela said in the consultation dialogue that 1,502 indigent senior citizens in his town have already received their social pension using the fund transfer. “We have observed that most of our constituents acknowledge the fast distribution of stipend in the barangays, more so that the stipend has increased to Php 1,000,” he added.

After the 4-day consultation dialogue for Cebu province, 100% of the 53 LGUs reaffirmed their commitment to support and pledged to adopt the fund transfer scheme.

Bantayan, Cebu Mayor Arthur E. Despi, and other LGU stakeholders sign the Pledge of Commitment to use the Fund Transfer Scheme in the implementation of the social pension program.

Emma F. Patalinghug, OIC-Division Chief of the Protective Services Division, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to engage more LGUs to adopt the fund transfer as it is the most comfortable and convenient for the older population to receive the government’s service.

More than 40,000 SCs still on the waiting list

Out of the 299,737 senior citizens allocated in Region 7, about 41,748, validated and qualified to be included in the program, are still on the waiting list due to the limited number of slots available.

In identifying the replacement of delisted beneficiaries, either deceased or removed, the program prioritizes senior citizens on the waiting list according to the following criteria with guide points: physical condition like disability or chronic illness (35%), living condition like living alone, abandoned, or neglected (30%), economic status like minimal to no financial support received from families (25%), and age (10%), with older applicants being more likely to get a priority.

While waiting for their inclusion in the program, several LGUs replicated the provision of financial assistance or grants through local funds to needy senior citizens not covered by the social pension of the national government.

LGU Dumanjug in Cebu, for instance, provides financial assistance worth PHP 500 monthly to 220 identified senior citizens not covered by the social pension program. Mayor Efren Guntrano Z. Gica shared their local initiative. “In our town, senior citizens are treated not just as individuals of a certain age, but they serve as guardians of our collective wisdom and shared history, and most importantly, they are the pillars of our community,” he added. ###

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