Budget must include extra P25-B aid — solon

The Marcos administration has “no choice” but to dispense P25 billion more for the P500 increase in the monthly pension of indigent senior citizens, a lawmaker said on Sunday, asking the government to include the additional funding in the proposed 2023 national budget.

As Malacañang is set to submit on 22 August its national expenditure plan for next year, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said the additional P25 billion needed for the expanded monthly pension must be “factored into the budget bill.”

“We have to augment the allowance of poor seniors so that they can meet their daily subsistence, including health maintenance needs, considering the soaring cost of food and other basic commodities,” Pimentel said.

He averred that under the Philippines Constitution, Congress “may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the government as specified in the budget.”

“Congress can cut the budget, but we cannot increase it, so it would be better if the budget tendered to Congress already includes the additional P25 billion,” he noted.

The proposed law raising the monthly pension of indigent seniors from P500 to P1,000 earlier lapsed into law without the President’s signature.

In the 2022 national budget, funding for the Social Pension Program for Indigent Senior Citizens is lodged in the annual budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The program has an allocation of P25 billion this year. The amount, however, is enough to pay for the P500 monthly pension of 4.1 million indigent seniors identified by the DSWD.

Another P25 billion would be needed for the new law.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will “find the way” to provide the P50 billion necessary funding for the P1,000 monthly pension of indigent senior citizens.

In a text message on Sunday, DBM Undersecretary Goddes Hope Libiran expressed the agency’s “full support” to the program that increases the pension as well as to other programs, which purpose is to “help those in need.”

“We shall wait for the law’s implementing rules and regulations to be made by the National Commission of Senior Citizens in consultation with DBM and DSWD as well as the validated list of beneficiaries so that we can allot funds for the program,” she explained.

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