Press Release
July 21, 2010

Recto seeks supplemental budget for pension benefits of senior citizens

Sen. Ralph G. Recto is seeking immediate funding for the monthly pension benefits for indigent senior citizens under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 or Republic Act (RA) 9994 after framers of the law delayed the appropriations for next year.

"Our senior citizens should not be made to wait for a full year to receive this benefit. It is high time that they enjoy additional benefits and privileges from the government and that they should enjoy it at the soonest possible time," Recto said in his Senate Bill (SB) 151.

Recto said from the estimated P7 billion yearly requirement for the pension of senior citizens as provided under the law, Congress must pass a supplemental budget of P3.5 billion to cover the remaining second half of the year from July to December.

Funds for the pension benefit of the senior citizens were not included in this year's P1.514 trillion national budget that was enacted by Congress.

Without the supplemental budget, senior citizens entitled to the social pension will have to wait until 2011 before this could be funded under the next national budget.

Indigent senior citizens are entitled to a social pension of P500 every month under the law.

Recto stressed senior citizens, most of whom are in the twilight of their life, may not have the extra year to wait for the coming of their pension.

"The law did not provide for the immediate appropriation of this monthly pension. Instead, funds to cover the benefit will only be included in the DSWD budget of subsequent General Appropriations Acts, to begin on fiscal year 2011," he said.

Recto said more than a million indigent senior citizens would be immediately benefitted this year if the supplemental budget of P3.5 billion is approved by the new Congress.

The 15th Congress convenes July 26, 2010.

Under SB 151, Recto said the funds should be released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is the administrator of the monthly pension.

If approved, the monthly pension would cover the remaining months of July to December.

Among the benefits and privileges provided in the Expanded Senior Citizens Act is the grant of a twenty-percent (20%) discount and exemption from the value -added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of some goods and services.

It also includes other benefits and privileges such as free vaccines for indigent senior citizens, death benefit assistance, educational assistance, free medical and dental services, mandatory PhilHealth coverage, and exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs, among others.

While the original Senior Citizens Act, RA 7342, gave the elderly a 20 percent discount on goods and services, they were not exempted from the VAT, which effectively brought down the level of discount to only eight percent.

Now that the law has been amended, some 4.1 million senior citizens would be able to enjoy the full 20 percent discount coverage. admission fees in cinemas, theaters and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and funeral and burial services.

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