As early as seven in the morning, groups of senior citizens from various barangays eagerly troop to the City Social Welfare and Development Office to claim their stipend.

104 indigent senior citizens finally received their Social Pension granted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development which has temporarily put on-hold its pay-outs in the last few months to make way for the finalization of the results of the cross-matching process of qualified beneficiaries and validation. The result showed that out of the 19,417 social pensioners in Northern Mindanao, 4, 068 were in the Listahanan database – a criteria that qualifies senior citizens to the program.

Another batch of senior citizens is set to receive the stipend by August 2014.

The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) or what is now known as “Listahanan” is an information management system that the government uses in identifying who and where the poor are.
It aims to address poverty reduction through a scientific and target- focused strategy. Identification of social pensioners was based on the Listahanan database and the listing submitted by the Local Social Welfare Officers and the Federation of Senior Citizens in the various localities.

The Social Pension for indigent senior citizens is one of the provisions under Section 5 of Republic Act 9994 otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. The Social Pension is the additional government assistance in the amount of P500.00 monthly stipend to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of senior citizens.

As for 80-year old Emilia Zabarte of Baluarte, Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City, her social pension has indeed been a big help for her and even her family specially her grandsons and granddaughters. Aside from using it for buying medicines, she now has her share ofgiving baon to her grandchildren in going to school, which leaves her a sense of gratification and satisfaction. As she tearfully receives the cash stipend handed to her by a staff from the DSWD, she was all smiles knowing that she can now buy some groceries, medicines and pasalubong to her grandchildren.

Emilia’s story is just one of the hundreds of stories of grandparents that testify to the big impact the Social Pension has caused in their lives. Far beyond the meager amount of P500 per month is a story that the government recognizes what they have done in their younger years – that they are an essential sector in our society and that they deserve to enjoy the last years of their lives meaningfully .
Written by Mitzie S. Santiago, DSWD