The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started the release of about PHP793 million in social pension of indigent senior citizens in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 director, said Thursday such funding comprises the pension benefits for qualified elderly in the region’s four provinces and five cities for the second half of the year.
Espejo said the distribution of the cash grants is ongoing in parts of the region to the identified 264,358 beneficiaries.
He said they are currently fast-tracking the releases to also help ease the impact of the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to the beneficiaries.
Espejo said each senior citizen would receive PHP3,000 or equivalent to six months’ pension from July to December this year.
“Our indigent elders need the money. We are working with local officials to fast-track the distribution of these grants without compromising the health protocols,” he said in a statement.
Juliet Clavel, program coordinator, said they adopted strategies to ensure lesser contact between their field personnel and the beneficiaries.
Clavel said they strictly complied with the physical distancing regulations for senior citizens queueing for the assistance.
“There are deployed village marshals to ensure that health protocols are observed during the distribution,” she said.
DSWD-12 had provided their field workers with proper personal protective equipment to protect them from possible Covid-19 infection.
At the distribution areas, temporary booths with plastic covers were set up to protect the workers and their clients.
Such setup was observed during the distribution of the social pension to 315 elderly beneficiaries in Barangay Lumasal, Maasim town in Sarangani province last Tuesday.
Juanita Lopez, 65, thanked the national government for the timely release of their pension as her family already ran out of funds to cover her maintenance.
The wheelchair-bound Lopez, who was assisted by her son in claiming the pension, said she would use the amount to buy vitamins, diabetes medicine, and other needs.
“Once I arrive home, my son Henry will go to the drugstore to buy my medicines,” she was quoted as saying by the agency after getting her pension.
The DSWD handles the implementation of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, where indigent senior citizens could receive a monthly stipend worth PHP500 from the government.
It defines indigent senior citizens as “any elderly who is frail, sickly or with disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his/her relatives to support his/her basic needs, as determined by the DSWD.” (PNA)