SEN. LEILA M. DE LIMA’s OPENING STATEMENT FOR THE HEARING OF THE COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL JUSTICE, WELFARE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, RE: SENIOR CITIZENS’ SOCIAL PENSION (25 January 2022)

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Good morning, everyone!

Although I cannot be present in this hearing with you, I would like to welcome my colleagues and our resource persons.

First of all, I would like to thank Sen. Joel Villanueva and our Senate President Vicente Sotto III in making this hearing possible.

Our senior citizens have always been with us through thick and thin. They have suffered this pandemic with us. They deserve to be given the opportunity to also be part of our country’s recovery program.

Before us today are two sets of legislation. The first involves bills increasing the social pension for indigent senior citizens under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. The bills propose to increase the present PHP500 pension to PHP1,000. This seeks to address the increasing prices of commodities especially due to the pandemic. I am in full support of this proposal.

I also express my support, for the subcommittee’s consideration, the second set of bills proposing for the expansion of the senior citizen pension to cover all senior citizens regardless if they are indigent or not.

The present limitation of the program has led to many truly indigent senior citizens to be unable to avail of this assistance because they have been unable to navigate through the bureaucratic maze of applying and qualifying for his program. Indeed, our country has been spending a lot of resources in targeting, regulating, and policing the people who are qualified for the indigent pension. There is also a present moral hazard in granting discretion to so many public officials in determining who receives the senior pension.

By simplifying the process, we would not only relieve the regulatory pressure from our implementing agencies, we would be making it easier for our senior citizens, to avail of this assistance. We would also be able to avoid the corruption that is bugging the present system.

I implore everyone to keep an open mind and listen to the arguments of everyone, especially our stakeholders.

Thank you very much.

Office of Senator Leila de Lima
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