targeting old age benefits in the Philippines

The older persons of Bangued, a city with a population of nearly 50,000 and capital of the Philippine province of Abra, celebrated this year’s National Elderly Week by questioning government officials on distribution of benefits intended for the poor, in accord with the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. The targeting is by household, regardless of whether individual members of the household receive adequate care and nutrition. Even with perfect targeting, many senior citizens would be left in poverty. And the targeting is far from perfect.

The Philippines urgently needs a universal age pension, with cash benefits paid directly to older persons. The means-tested social pension currently is 500 pesos (US$ 9.25) a month, equal to 4% of per capita GDP, 47% of the international PPP poverty line. This should be made universal and increased to reach the poverty line, with removal of benefits in kind, such as discounts for groceries, transportation and utility bills. Medicare (PhilHealth and medicines) should be universal (free for everyone), regardless of age.

Marino Trinidad, president of the Cordillera Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Associations … presented the salient provisions of the law which include among others, the benefits of senior citizens (SC) such as social pension for those with no visible regular income, the 20% discount on transport fares and medicines, 5% discount on groceries, LPG and electric and water bills, and now the lifetime membership in the PhilHealth for free hospitalization.

Issues and concerns of the SC were raised and clarified by Trinidad ….

One issue raised was how SCs are determined for the social pension program. Media often receive feedback that the listing of SC pensioners was allegedly influenced by local officials, hence there are those even more qualified to receive the benefit but were not included in the list. But Trinidad explained the process of selection was based on the result of the Household Targeting Survey conducted by the DSWD [Department of Social Welfare and Development].

The issue of violation against the elderly was also raised since there are cases of GSIS [Civil Service] pensioners who are not allegedly properly taken care of by their family members. Trinidad explained that the pension of the elderlies rightly belongs to them for their lifetime sustenance since they labored and saved for it. He said cases like these should be reported to the Office of SC Affairs.


Franco Ching, chief of the Consumer Protection Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry clarified the 5% discount on groceries. He explained that not all basic and prime commodities are subject to 5% discount and that there is also a limit of up to P1,300.00 [US$24.11] worth of goods only per week.

The 5% discount on electric bill is limited only to those whose monthly consumption is below 100 kilowatts and the account should be in the name of the SC, he also clarified.

Philippine Information Agency, “‘Kapihan sa Abra’ tackles rights,issues of the elderly“,, 17 October 2018.


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