Vice President Leni Robredo said Monday she will at least double the amount of monthly pension of indigent senior citizens to P1,000 from the existing P500 and further increase it in phases if she is elected president in the May polls.
Robredo said the P1,000 monthly pension for indigent senior citizens is a more realistic amount to cover the daily expenses of senior citizens that include their basic medicines which can be done during the first year of her presidency, and that such amount can be progressively increased as years go by.
“We can achieve this by implementing a more rational way of spending the people’s money. We must rethink the non-essential expenses such as travel, seminars, vehicle acquisition, and the representation allowance given to government officials,” Robredo said.
Robredo cited the 2022 national budget only earmarked P25 billion for the P500 monthly stipend for indigent senior citizens, an amount which can be increased with reduction of other items in the government’s annual spending program such as travel (P19.6 billion), trainings (P39.5 billion), supplies and materials (P167.7 billion) and professional services or the hiring of consultants (P48.5 billion).
“We will encourage sacrifice on the part of everyone in the bureaucracy, starting with the Office of the President, to raise funds for important programs,” Robredo added.
In addition, Robredo said more funds must be allocated for the financial assistance for more than five million elderly Filipinos than for the hiring of consultants.
“Clearly, there is a lot of room in the national budget to generate funds for programs like doubling the monthly stipend of senior citizens,” she said.
In proposing to include all senior citizens in the financial assistance program, Robredo said many elderly retirees are receiving small amounts of pension from the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
“They too need help from the government. The monthly stipend from the national government would augment their pension,” she said.
As this developed, Robredo’s 2022 presidential bid was endorsed by four former senators and 12 retired senior government officials by citing the Vice President's fearless, action-oriented, inclusive, and decisive leadership “who puts great premium on transparency, accountability, and collaboration.”
These former public officials include former Senator and Armed Forces chief Rodolfo Biazon, former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Senator Sergio Osmeña III and Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada, among others.
“We strongly believe that VP Leni is the most qualified and trustworthy presidential candidate who has the political will to rebuild our sordid past, engender hope and inspiration among our people regardless of social standing, and bring about change that has long eluded us,” their joint statement read.
“We, the undersigned former senior government officials and retired business executives, hereby forward this earnest appeal to our fellow Filipinos as we choose our next president in the coming elections,” they added.
The former government officials also cited Robredo’s timely, efficient, and innovative implementation of a pandemic response plan which included the Vaccine Express which provided health care personnel support for LGU COVID-19 vaccination, the free testing Swab Cab service, and the free Bayanihan E-Konsulta telemedicine platform.
“We throw our unequivocal support for VP Leni who leads with her heart, as much as she leads with her mind. This was especially apparent in the timely, efficient and innovative ways with which she implemented her own pandemic response plan,” they said. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA News