More than P1.2 billion has been earmarked for the pension of 185,914 poor senior citizens for 2012, Department of Social Welfare and Development said Tuesday.

The DSWD also said this is more than the P694.177 million it released in 2011 for 126,558 poor senior citizens, including those in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

“As of February 20, 2012, a total of 126,558 senior citizens or 91 percent of the 138,960 qualified beneficiaries for 2011 have been receiving their P500 monthly social pension from the DSWD.  Pay-out of stipend for the fourth quarter of 2011 is still being done by the DSWD Regional Offices,” it said.

The social pension program is provided under Republic Act No. 9994, the Expanded Senior Citizens Act (ESCA) of 2010.

Under the law, the government will serve indigent senior citizens who are frail, sickly and disabled, without any regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

Meanwhile, in the ARMM, DSWD-ARMM OIC Undersecretary Parisya Hashim-Taradji said the DSWD continues to hold meetings with senior citizens groups, including the Confederation of Older Person’s Association of the Philippines (COPAP) and Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE), to effectively and efficiently implement the program.

“Senior citizens groups should be mobilized to help the DSWD implement the program, they can assist us in the validation of qualified beneficiaries,” Taradji said.

Priority beneficiaries

Priority beneficiaries of the social pension are senior citizens 77 years old and above.

The list of beneficiaries came from the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) of the DSWD, which is the database identifying who and where the poor are.

Qualified senior citizens who are not included in the NHTS-PR data were also considered as replacement to those non-qualified and delisted senior citizens due to death or transfer of residence.— LBG, GMA News