ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Will you believe that a 500 peso bill can go a long way? Well, if I only have that amount in my pocket now, it can at least sustain my needs for three days. But for some, that money can actually bring them more than material satisfaction.
For instance, 79-year old Gerardo Cañonero of Barangay Pali Benedicto, Mandurriao considers a 500 peso bill enough to rekindle the bond of grandparents to their children and grandchildren.
The city’s head Office of Senior Citizen’s Affairs is referring to the Php500 monthly social pension that an indigent senior citizen can receive through the help of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“There are senior citizens who would usually set aside something for their grandchildren once they receive their social pension. This gesture helps bring their families closer than before,” Cañonero said with enthusiasm.
The treat may be small, he said, but the smile in their grandchildren after that or the laughter from their conversation as they dine together or walk out of the restaurant is the heartwarming reward they gain in exchange.
The social pension is also empowering poor senior citizens. “Because of the social pension, they are now seeking the physician’s advice every time they feel sick. And most importantly, they can now take care of themselves and live longer,” he stressed.
Records from DSWD show that there are 35,405 senior citizens in Iloilo City. Of which, half are active members of OSCA and only 648 are qualified to avail the social pension program of the national government as provided for by Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010.
Due to budgetary constraints, only those at age 77 and above are prioritized by DSWD.
In order to help those poor who are not included in the program, the city government, through OSCA, is providing additional support.
“Since there is a limit in coverage, the city has its own counterpart. Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog provides P1,000 yearly to about 5,000 indigent senior citizens who are not included in DSWD’s social pension program,” he said.
The social pension coming from the city government is given every six months. Should there be move to lower the age requirement, Cañonero said they will be grateful to the national government if that happens.
“In the beginning, many senior citizens are disappointed (of the 77 age limit). Because when you say senior citizen, it should start at 60. But if there is a move to reduce the age requirement to 60, this will be a welcome news,” he said.
Meanwhile, OSCA is encouraging all the senior citizens to maximize the use of their identification cards in the availing the privileges granted to them by the state.
Senior citizens, as provided by Republic Act. 7432, are exempted from value-added tax and are entitled to a 20-percent discount when purchasing medicines, food and other items specified by the law.
If there are defiant establishments, OSCA urged the concerned senior citizens to file complaint against them in their office.
“I also would like to encourage those people who are turning 60 years old, especially those employed in the government, to seize these privileges because it has been our observation that some of them do not feel that they should be entitled to these privileges until they reach 65. Well, they must understand that these benefits start at age 60 and not wait for retirement age,” he said. #2014News