Cezario Joel Espejo, Department of Social Welfare and Development-Region 12 director (File photo courtesy of DSWD-12)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has released about PHP1.06 billion in cash assistance this year to indigent senior citizens in Region 12 (Soccsksargen).

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 director, said Tuesday the grants cover the social pension from January to June and the unpaid subsidy of qualified senior citizens from parts of the region last year.

He said a total of PHP671.03 million has been transferred by the agency to the local government units (LGUs) for some 223,679 beneficiaries who were validated as eligible to receive the PHP500 monthly stipend.

For the unpaid pension in 2019, the agency released some PHP392.9 million to 130,791 senior citizens, he said.

Espejo said the distribution of the assistance, which is released quarterly, is ongoing through the LGUs.

He said they were making sure that all qualified senior citizens will receive their social pension, which was provided for under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

RA 9994 defines indigent senior citizens as “any elderly who is frail, sickly or with a disability, and without pension or permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance from his/her relatives to support his/her basic needs, as determined by the DSWD”.

The official said they have fast-tracked the ongoing distribution of the subsidies amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“This is to ensure that the needs of our vulnerable clients are properly addressed as we continue to face this crisis,” Espejo said in a statement.

Bonifacio Selma Jr., DSWD-12 assistant director, assured that all listed beneficiaries would receive their stipend.

He admitted that the distribution of the assistance in some areas was delayed due to the limited movement of their personnel in the wake of the threats posed by the spread of Covid-19.

“Our office is closely working with the senior citizens association presidents and LGUs for the schedule of releases to those who have not yet received the assistance,” he added. (PNA)