LGU Tagum commits full attention to Tagumenyo elders
Words By Richi Gulle
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT of Tagum has always put premium in forging partnerships with the different stakeholders of the city to strengthen and develop, as well as implement programs that will be beneficial to and experienced by all the members of the city’s communities.
Thus, when the Philippine national government intensified its existing programs that will redound to the benefits of the senior citizens, the City Government of Tagum was among the many local government units which closely coordinated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to ensure that the elderly Tagumenyos, most especially those falling along the line of indigence, would really be able to enjoy the privileges that are rightfully meant for them, as prescribed by the laws enacted in the country.
One of the programs that the city, through its office that promotes the social welfare and the physical well-being of the elderly, has since implemented following the mandate of the DSWD, is the Social Pension Program, wherein a P500- peso monthly stipend is granted to senior citizens aged 65 years old and older who neither have permanent source of income, compensation or financial assistance/ support from relatives nor pension from the Social Security System, the Government Service Insurance System and Veterans Affairs.
Distributed every quarter through cash payment at the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), the pension serves to augment the daily subsistence and other medical needs of the city’s elderly who must also meet the additional eligibility criteria set by the DSWD, such as being frail, sickly or have disabilities. As of 2016, the CSWDO has catered to a total of 1,537 senior citizens aged 72 years old and older from the city’s 23 barangays, and spent the DSWD’s funds which amounted to P9.222 million.
The Social Pension Program of the national lined agency, however, has its own bumps due to limited government funds, and thus cannot serve all the eligible senior citizens living in the city who have registered with the CSWDO specifically to become beneficiaries of the program.
To ensure that more elderly Tagumenyos will be catered in the implementation of the Social Pension Program in Tagum, the legislative arm of the local government enacted City Ordinance No. 686 in 2014 where included in its provisions is the allocation of funds for the the social pension of those who fell short of being included in the DSWD’s list of beneficiaries due to the said lack of funds on the part of the national agency.
Thus, pursuant to the Expanded Senior Citizens Ordinance of Tagum, the LGU has started the release of funds to the tune of P600,000 in 2016 to subsidize the pension of indigent senior citizens who, having met the standard criteria of the DSWD, still failed to be considered for the program due to non-availability of DSWD-allocated funds. This locally sanctioned subsidy stands to benefit at least 100 economically disadvantaged beneficiaries who will receive the same amount given by the national government.
Notably, the ordinance specifically provides that another set of 100 senior citizens will replace the previous set of qualified elderly Tagumenyos to ensure that all indigent senior citizens will be catered, provided that those aged 90 years old and older are given priority in their registration for the social pension program.
The local government also strengthened the social services it offers to elderlies of the city through the implementation of the Mandatory Philhealth Coverage where all the senior citizens are covered mandatorily by the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth).
Under this program, the elderly Tagumenyos shall be entitled to benefit packages prescribed under the NHIP and shall include packages such as inpatient hospital care, day/ambulatory services, TB-DOTS, animal bite package, malaria package, Outpatient HIV/AIDS treatment package, blood transfusion package, and special benefits for catastrophic cases (Z benefits), among others.
To avail of these offered benefit packages, the senior citizens who must primarily be enrolled with the Philhealth as members of NHIP and in coordination with the local Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA), need not pay the premium contributions as these are already sourced from the proceeds of the Sin Tax Law.
Still in the aspect of providing better social services for the senior citizens in the city, Tagum has recently increased the amount of its annual subsidy to the DSWD-operated Home for the Aged located at Barangay Visayan Village. From 100,000 pesos, the LGU has now started to allocate P200,000 for the establishment, which will be used to augment the funds necessary in the furtherance of specialized care for the abandoned, neglected and unattached older persons in the City of Tagum.
Truly, the City Government of Tagum has taken the necessary steps in ensuring the welfare of its elders- a sector once neglected but is now included in the local government’s priority.