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Former congressman says senior citizens law is defective

By URIEL C. QUILINGUING
Contributing Editor .

IF you are a senior citizen, yet you look healthy, you will not be entitled to a government’s  monthly social pension which the law provides.

“Something is wrong with the law,” said lawyer and three-term representative Rufus Rodriguez during a candidates forum at Xavier University Tuesday last week.

Rodriguez, who is seeking the seat again, wants more senior citizens to receive social pension, but he has to secure the mandate from Cagayan de Oro City’s electorate in the May 13 midterm elections first.

“The law specifies only those who are frail, sickly or with disability are qualified for social pensions of P500 a month,” he said. “Unfortunately, most of our grandparents look well.”

Aside from these descriptions, only indigent  senior citizens are qualified only if they do not receive any pension from government agencies and without permanent source of income, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The qualifications for senior citizens, 65 years old and older, to be entitled for a P500 monthly pension is stipulated in Republic Act No. 9994, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

“What can one buy with P500? I want that increased to P1,000 and let’s set the threshold of monthly income at P5,000, so all those receiving less than that, will receive the social pension,”  said the founder and president of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines.

“Let’s do away with that ‘frail, sickly and or with disability’ requirement,” Rodriguez said who  got an affirmation from another congressional aspirant, mechanical engineer Rogelio Villazorda Jr. of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

Villazorda agreed all senior citizens must be entitled to monthly social pensions as well as other benefits to include free transportations in public transportations and must be provided, in every barangay, a comfortable place where they can interact with others in their sector.

Another candidate for the second district congressional seat,  Liga ng mga Barangay president and Councilor Yan Lam Lim failed to attend the candidates’ forum due to a prior commitment (not due to a delayed plane flight, as stated in a previous report).   

Lim is seeking the post, for the first time, under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

As of March this year, record from the City Social Welfare Department showed 8,937 senior citizens have received their P500 social pension that month and in previous months. Senior citizens are residents of Cagayan de Oro who are 65 years old and older.

CSWD head and concurrent City Administrator Teodoro Sabuga-a said 2,000 of the total number received their social pensions from the city government while the 6,937 from the DSWD.

Nationwide, DSWD spent P19,2982,542,000 for the three million social pension recipients.

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