Social pensioners in Region 12 to undergo validation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 May) — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12 is targeting to begin before the end of the month the special validation for its social pension beneficiaries in the area.

Ashraf Dirampatan, regional field coordinator of the DSWD’s National Household Targeting Office (NHTO), said Monday they are currently finalizing their preparations for the region-wide validation, which will mainly focus on indigent senior citizens who are covered by the program.

He said the validation of the pension beneficiaries was mainly based on the provision of the General Appropriations Act for 2014, which cited that only the indigent senior citizens registered in the Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction database should be paid with their social pension or benefits.

Owing to this, he said the DSWD central office mandated the NHTO to conduct an immediate validation of the social pension beneficiaries in the region and specifically determine whether they are qualified or not to avail of the program.

Also known as Soccsksargen, Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat. Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We will verify the poverty status of the current recipients of the program and ensure that only the qualified poor will continue receiving benefits from it,” he said.

The social pension program was implemented by the DSWD two years ago based on the provisions of Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010.

Under the program, qualified beneficiaries will receive a monthly stipend of P500 to help augment their daily subsistence and medical needs.

The priority beneficiaries are senior citizens aged 77 years-old and above who are frail, sickly and with disabilities, without a regular source of income and/or support from any member of the family, and not receiving other pension benefits from government and private agencies.

In Region 12, the agency had identified around 5,000 indigent senior citizens as program beneficiaries.

Dirampatan said they will utilize family assistance forms to assess the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries.

The data gathered from the validation will be subject to proxy means testing to determine whether the household assessed is poor or not, he said.

“Beneficiaries who will be found unqualified for the program will immediately delisted from the monthly pension payments,” he said.

As part of their preparations, Dirampatan said they have launched a series of orientations regarding the special validation for local government officials in the region.

He said the initiative focused mainly on the upcoming validation activities and the implementation of the modified conditional cash transfer program for families in need of special protection (MCCT-FNSP).

For the social pension, he emphasized that the assessment will legitimize the continuation of the payment of monthly stipends of the beneficiaries while the inclusion of MCCT-FNSP beneficiary-families in the Listahanan database will guarantee their advancement to the regular Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4P’s. (MindaNews)