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Duterte to prioritize bill expanding universal pension

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Rodrigo Duterte 1 072219 - Duterte to prioritize bill expanding universal pension
President Rodrigo Duterte — PHILSTAR/KRIZJOHN ROSALES

A PROPOSED P100 billion universal pension law will be included in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s legislative priority, according to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO).

The agency will recommend the inclusion upon the lobby of a coalition of elderly people, PLLO Secretary Adelino B. Sitoy said in a mobile phone message last week.

The bill will expand the existing social pension program by increasing benefits to senior citizens. The measure seeks to change the definition of indigence or remove it as a requirement for eligibility.

The bill was first filed in the previous Congress, where it only reached the committee level for lack of funds, Dioscoro B. Benalla, vice chairman of the Confederation of Older Persons Associations of the Philippines, said in a separate interview.

The government needs P100 billion yearly to enforce the proposed law that will cover 8.7 million Filipinos aged 60 years and above, COPAP Chairwoman Bonifacia C. Basconcillo said in a separate interview.

In a statement, Copap and the Coalition of Services of the Elderly noted that despite recent reforms in the Philippine pension system, about 40 percent of Filipino senior citizens are still left out.

The system only caters to salaried formal sector workers through contribution schemes, and the poorest through the state-funded social pension, the groups said.

Mr. Benalla said the funds should come from revenue generated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act. Several lawmakers from both houses of Congress have agreed to sponsor the bill, they said. — Arjay L. Balinbin

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