Indeed disinformation being done by some vested interest groups can create a lot of apprehension on those affected by certain social services of government.
One of these disinformation activities, or perhaps deliberately altered communication, is on the delay in the release of old age, the 4Ps, and IPs pensions. In some rural communities we have gone to, there are similarities in the complaints raised by beneficiaries of the social pensions earlier mentioned. The talks worried most by the social pensioners are on the report that the benefits will now be released every six months. Another supposed reason for the delay is that the national budget for 2019 has yet to be signed by the President. That is laying the blame on the President for what could be easily misinterpreted as a mess in the social program implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Some groups of social pensioners are also passing on stories that the release of the money is delayed for the last three months because the funds are being used for election purposes.
So, wherever we go, we usually hear stories coming from apprehensive beneficiaries that there is possibility they may not anymore receive their social pension, or that this will be delayed for a much longer period. The pensioners could be into the agony of waiting for an indeterminate period of time.
As a journalist we feel it is our responsibility to help assuage the fear of the social pensioners. Whatever little opportunity we have we told them that none of the talks they hear is true; that it is just a matter of time and everything will go back to the normal schedule of releases.
Our basis of course is the statement of Regional Director Mercedita Jabagat of the DSWD Region XI who disclosed recently that they are revalidating the list of social pension beneficiaries. This, according to Director Jabagat, when they found out that there are a good number of people who are not entitled to get social pensions but are receiving the money without fail. And it is costing the government hundreds of millions of pesos annually.
Yes, we agree with the good director that the list has to be cleansed because it is extremely unfair both to the government and to other beneficiaries when there are those who are getting their huge SSS, GSIS and other pension claims but at the same time also getting from the 4Ps, old age, and IP monthly grants. In other words some greedy individuals want to gobble up everything that they can milk out from the government including the measly social pension benefits. This is happening even as there are those who are real and deserving to be beneficiaries that are not in the list and have not been given the pension. How this happened we can only surmise of possible collaboration by some scheming officials in the barangays and at the DSWD or the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) tasked with preparing the list of beneficiaries.
According to Director Jabagat in a statement to the media last week, the revalidation of the list of beneficiaries will be completed by June. By then we expect that the funds for the lumped social pension for the months covered by the non-release will already be down-loaded to the regional level.
We personally know Director Jabagat as a concerned and passionate public servant. Therefore, we are confident that she could make good her time-table in completing the revalidation of the list.
Hence, our advice to the affected social pensioners is to keep their trust in the government and just stretch their patience a little farther. After all, weeding out the undesirables in the list of beneficiaries will allow the legitimate ones to receive what rightfully is due them under the social pension law.
They should not listen to loose talks from this and that sector in the community. We have heard reports that some aspirants for national elective positions are riding on the situation. These candidates are promising the affected beneficiaries that if they support their bid they will work for the early and regular release of the social pensions. Other bets even commit to expand coverage and increase the amount of benefits.
While making such commitment is part of strategic election campaigning the social pension beneficiaries who are now a potent voting force, should not be easily tricked into believing the candidates’ promises.
Instead they should go to the proper agencies of government like the DSWD and the CSSDO to inquire on the status of their pension releases. And they should allow the agencies concerned a little more time to complete the revalidation of the list.
In other words, the beneficiaries need to do some little sacrifices to improve the implementation of the social program and to make its funds sustainable by releasing the same to only the legitimate beneficiaries, not just any Tom, Dick and Harry who submits his claims complete with documentary requirements, mostly “doctored” ones.