Social pensioner Jacobina Dadong, 77, claims her pension.

BAGANGA, Davao Oriental -“Presently, there are 223 senior citizens here who are qualified and are receiving the P500 monthly Social Pension from DSWD,” said Gemma Dela Cruz, DSWD Team Leader of Davao Oriental.

Recently, DSWD released the social pension here for 27 senior citizens. “We are conducting today’s payout for the 27 grantees who failed to claim their pension during the last scheduled payout,” Dela Cruz said.

Despite the rain, they came, hailing from different barangays via tricycle which is the most common form of shuttle for villagers here. Some were escorted by their children, others by their granddaughters, the rest by friends and neighbors.

From Barangay Mahan-ub, Jacobina Dadong, 77, is still able to support herself by cultivating camote and corn.

Crispiniano Dela Salde, 78, of Barangay Lucod, is luckier as he got the support of his children when his coconut trees were felled by ‘Pablo’.

For Teodita Ongod, 86, from Barangay Poblacion, she uses her pension to buy milk. “Maayo man akong panglawas. Wala koy maintenance nga tambal (My health is fine. I don’t take maintenance medicine).”

Eighty-one year-old Lucia Alfonso of Barangay Lucod buys biscuits and milk out of her monthly pension.

“In Baganga, we have 2445 senior citizens who are members of the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) but we only have 233 with ages 77 and above who qualify for the social pension program,” revealed Emda B. Batingana who heads the OSCA here since November 2012.

Batingana of Barangay Lambajon is 66 years old and a retired teacher of Baganga National High School. She lost her two-storey house to ‘Pablo’.

As OSCA head, Batingana calls for meetings every two months with the 24 chapter presidents for the 18 barangays in Baganga. “I also convene chapter presidents after every Board Meeting in Mati to share updates and inform them of latest developments relative to the welfare of older persons. Board meetings are attended by municipal OSCA Heads and municipal federation presidents. Eleynor Mulato is our federation president here.”

“Just recently I made a proposal for the 500 new applicants for the social pension program. It’s a P2 million proposal for the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) which I submitted to the Municipal Development Council. The P2 million would be the counterpart contribution of the municipal local government,” Batingana explained.

She said, “senior citizens here usually buy medicine, milk, rice and other basic needs out of their social pension.”

The Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens Program addresses the clamor for social protection to the most vulnerable as well as backs the full implementation of RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. The monthly stipend of P500 which took effect January 2011, augments the daily subsistence and other medical needs of indigent senior citizens.

Potential recipients of the Social Pension Program or RA 9995 are non-pensioners who are 77 years old and up, with no regular support from the family. For 2013, Davao Region has 13251 total beneficiaries. DSWD