Stories of struggle and hope
Grief is always achingly hard and painful. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed everyone’s lives, including the mourning of the loss of a loved one.
Since the imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the country last March 17, 2020 and until today, the vulnerable sectors, especially the Senior Citizens have been greatly affected.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines, the elderly is at the highest risk of the most severe outcomes of this pandemic. Seven out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines are from this group. (30 July 2021, News release, Manila)
SOCIAL PENSION FOR INDIGENT SENIOR CITIZENS
Social Pension or SocPen program for Indigent Senior Citizens under Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 aims to augment the capacity of the beneficiaries to meet their daily subsistence and medical requirements; to reduce incidence of hunger; and to protect them from neglect, abuse and deprivation.
This law institutionalizes social protection by providing Php500 monthly stipend to the qualified beneficiary and supports the family to provide care to their sick and disabled senior citizens.
The release of cash assistance under the SocPen program is being done every six months or a semestral basis amounting to Php3,000.
Holding back her tears, Mrs. Gloria Despabiladero Dolot, 69, a resident of Brgy. Sugod, Bacon District, Sorsogon City claimed the Php15,000 total stipend for her and her deceased husband. It was both tears of joy and sadness for she did not expect to receive this much yet she does not her husband to share it with anymore.
Mrs. Dolot received the social pension cash assistance for his deceased husband, Mr. Melenio Ditan Dolot for the second semester of 2021, amounting to Php3,000.
Mr. Dolot died last August 2, 2021 which was within the second semester of the year. As per guidelines, a deceased but qualified beneficiary is still entitled to the semestral stipend of Php3,000 being released as long as he died within the same year.
Apart from this, Mrs Dolot, a first time pensioner, also received her monthly stipend amounting to Php12,000 covering the 1st and 2nd semester of 2020 and 2021.
“May pambayad na ako sa utang naming noong libing ng asawa ko. Alam ko masaya siya doon sa taas kasi mababawasan na ang problema ko.” (I can now pay for the balance incurred during my husband’s funeral. I know he is very happy right now in heaven because this will lessen my financial problem.)
Just like Nanay Gloria, Ms. Nenita Jalmasco Jolloso, 48, a resident of Brgy. Tugos Sorsogon City, still grieves for the passing of her 85-year old mother, Virgilia Jalmasco Dolloso.
Lola Virgilia died four days before the release of her social pension. Nenita recalled how excited her mother was when their Barangay Association of Senior Citizens Affairs (BASCA) president informed them that she will be receiving Php12,000 covering the semesters of 2020 and 2021.
Mrs. Jolloso died last October 11, 2021 when she slipped and fell inside their bathroom. When Nenita received the cash assistance in behalf of her mother, she bursted into tears. Having no family of her own, Nenita grew up taking care of her mother when all of her siblings got married and moved out of the house.
“Ngayon wala na si Mama, parang ang hirap magsimula ulit. Pero nagpapasalamat pa rin ako kasi malaking tulong itong pension niya para pandagdag sa gastos sa libing. Salamat, Ma, salamat DSWD.” (Now that my mother is gone, it is difficult to start again. But still, I’m grateful because her social pension will help us in her burial expenses. Thank you, Ma, thank you DSWD.”
ADHERENCE TO HEALTH PROTOCOLS
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) guarantees the public that social distancing measures and other health safety protocols are strictly observed during the offsite payment.
Instead of claiming their pension themselves, DSWD strongly encourages the social pension beneficiaries to send their relatives who are still living with them as their authorized representatives.###