Press Release
September 23, 2020

De Lima slams Duterte admin for depriving 91,000 senior citizens of social pension

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is dismayed by the move of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to cut the budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) Social Pension (SocPen) program which may prevent 91,000 senior citizens from receiving their social pension for 2021.

De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, laments how the Duterte government is disregarding the needs and concerns of senior citizens instead of promoting their rights and welfare.

"It pains me to learn that the DBM slashed P816.065 million from the budget of DSWD's Social Pension (SocPen) program thereby depriving 91,000 indigent senior citizens, under the DSWD's 'wait-listed' beneficiaries, of their monthly pension assistance," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 914.

"Sa gitna ng pandemya at krisis, tila ba napakadali sa gobyernong Duterte na iwanan sa ere ang nasasantabi na nga, gaya ng mga senior citizens," she added.

In a recent hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations, Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova reportedly claimed that they initially requested over P24 billion to cover more than 3.7 million indigent senior citizens for the said program but the DBM only granted P23.187 billion, a deficit of over P816 million.

If the P816 million will not be given to them, Relova claimed that they cannot include for the 2021 budget the 91,000 waitlisted senior citizens.

The lady Senator from Bicol then questioned how Mr. Duterte can continue to turn a blind eye to the helpless and hapless situation of our elderly.

"Habang patuloy na tinatabas ang mga serbisyo para sa mga bulnerableng sektor, heto naman ang mga pet agencies ni Ginoong Duterte na patuloy ang paglobo ng budget, na ang iba naman ay nauuwi sa kupit, hindi sa COVID-19," she said.

If Duterte has any concern for the elderly at all, De Lima said she believes that he can spare a portion of his billions of confidential and intelligence funds or any other of his discretionary funds for them.

"Kung may tunay na malasakit, magagawan ito ng paraan. Ang problema, ang administrasyong ito, puro pasakit. Maawa naman kayo!," said De Lima.

"In the words of Pope Francis, the elderly are a treasure of our society. Hindi matatawaran ang ambag nila sa ating lipunan. Kaya sana naman ay alagaan sila at hindi pabayaan, lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya. Wag lang "seen" nyo - kundi seryosohin nyo - ang mga seniors," she added.

De Lima, a human rights and social justice champion, sponsored and co-authored Republic Act No. 11350 which creates the National Commission of Senior Citizens, a new agency dedicated to the promotion of the rights and welfare of senior citizens. She is also the author of a bill which sought to give additional cash gifts of P10,000 to senior citizens who reach the age of 80 and 90, aside from the P100,000 they receive when they turn 100 years old.

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