The initial distribution of cash incentives for centenarians by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Western Visayas will benefit 109 people from the province and city of Iloilo on Wednesday.

The 109 recipients are among the 360 identified centenarian beneficiaries in the region.

Judith Tanate, DSWD-6 focal person for Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons, said their central office already downloaded PHP36 million for the centenarian beneficiaries.

In 2016, DSWD has identified 2,992 centenarian-beneficiaries nationwide. Western Visayas, including Negros Occidental, has the highest number of people over 100 years old in the country.

Iloilo province has the highest number of beneficiaries in the region with 116 while Negros Occidental has 82; Capiz, 65; Aklan, 42; Antique, 27; Iloilo City,19 and Guimaras with nine.

Tanate said that all the identified centenarians are currently living in the region. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is yet to identify the centenarians from Western Visayas based abroad.

She said that the oldest beneficiary is a 116-year old male from Kalibo, Aklan who will be celebrating his birthday this May.

While some of the family members of the intended beneficiaries are yet to fully comply with the requirements, Tanate assured to fully distribute the cash incentives before the end of next month.

Requirements to avail of the cash incentive include birth certificate, passport (for centenarians abroad) and any valid government-issued identification card.

Tanate noted that the DSWD guidelines provide that the money should be used to buy food, medicine and other needs of the beneficiary.

She said that the provincial, city and municipal social welfare officers would monitor the centenarians and the use of the money.

As of March, the DSWD regional office has already identified around 40 possible centenarians in the region who will possibly be the next beneficiaries of the cash incentives and other recognitions.

Under Section 2 of Republic Act 10868 or the “Centenarians Act of 2016,” all Filipinos who reach the age of 100 years old, whether residing in the Philippines or abroad, shall be honored with a letter of felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity and a centenarian gift in the amount of PHP100,000.00.

The law also declared the first Sunday of October as “National Respect for Centenarians Day” wherein all Filipinos who have turned centenarian in the current fiscal year shall be awarded a plaque of recognition and another cash incentive by their respective city or municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies.

Tanate said that the letter of felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity, which is supposed to be distributed together with the cash incentive, might be given during the celebration as the central office has yet to release it. (PNA) CBF