Universal social pension bill hurdles House panel


By Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

THE HOUSE Committee on Appropriations approved on Wednesday a bill for universal social pensions, aiming to prevent elderly Filipinos from slipping into poverty.

Under the proposed legislation, the government would allocate P89 billion annually to cover 4.5 million senior citizens, said Laguna Rep. Loreto S. Amante.

“I believe the universal social pension will be crucial to keeping the near-poor and lower middle-income seniors from slipping into poverty,” Party-list Rep. Rodolfo M. Ordanes said in a statement.

“For now, only those qualified and registered senior citizens only receive P1,000 from the social pension,” Mr. Amante, who is a vice-chair of the House Senior Citizens Committee, told BusinessWorld in a text message in Filipino. “The bill now provides that every senior citizen will now receive a social pension, no longer requiring they be indigents to receive the aid.”

Mr. Amante explained the process for seniors to enroll through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), with payment options including electronic wallets and banks.

He noted plans for direct aid distribution in remote areas without banking access.

The bill aims to gradually raise pensions to P1,000 for all seniors. “Hopefully, in five years’ time, the P1,000 pension will be universal for all senior citizens.”