Why require school records? Senators hit delay of P100,000 cash gift for centenarians
MANILA, Philippines — How can a centenarian produce a school record before getting a P100,000 cash gift from the government?
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian posed the thought-provoking question during a joint Senate committee meeting on Wednesday, led by Senator Imee Marcos.
The committee was deliberating several bills which would amend and broaden the Centenarians Act of 2016.
The Act, signed by the late President Benigno Aquino III, grants centenarians a cash prize of P100,000, as well as a letter of felicitation from the Commander-in-Chief.
But as Gatchalian discovered from his constituents, such a reward has a prerequisite: one must have a school record.
“Apparently isa sa mga requirements [ay] school records. Paano naman nating hingin [ang] school records for a 100-year-old?” the senator then asked.
(Apparently, one of the requirements is a school record. How we can get the school records for a 100-year-old?)
“Hindi natin alam either nasunog na yun nabaha na lalo na sa Bulacan. So my point of the matter there is although I’m one of the authors of this bill, we need to also resolve the distribution both in terms of efficiency and also practicality,” he said
“Because we’re talking about people who have reached 100 years old and a lot of them bed ridden na ho, hindi na makaalis. May mga requirements ho na hindi na practical like school records. How do you submit a school record di ba?” Gatchalian further asked.
(Because we’re talking about people who have reached 100 years old and a lot of them are bed ridden, they could no longer go out. There are requirements that are no longer practical like school records. How do you submit a school record?)
But according to Miramel Laxa, officer-in-charge of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s program management bureau, the only requirement now is the birth certificate or an affidavit of the centenarian or the beneficiary’s eldest child.
Marcos interjected, saying that while the requirement may be simple, funding source remains a problem.
“Simple nga yung requirements, wala naman kayong datung, wala kayong pambayad e kaya pabalik-balik, wala kayong pambayad. Maski qualified yung tao kumpleto yung papel, kumpleto yung dokumento, wala na kelangang i submit kaya lang wala naman kayong pambayad. Yan ang nangyayari,” she said.
(The requirements are simple but you have no money, the applicants are going back and forth because you don’t have money to pay them. Even if they are qualified, they have papers and documents but you have no money. That’s what is happening.)
If funding is the problem, then the government should inform the centenarians so they don’t have to go back and forth to claim the cash gift, Gatchalian said, noting that another constituent has been waiting for his cash gift since 2021.
“Kung walang pondo, walang pondo then let’s solve that but huwag namang daanin sa pahirap yung applicant kasi kawawa naman,” he said.
(If there’s no fund then let’s solve that but don’t let the applicants suffer.)
Laxa earlier told the committee that they were only able to serve 1,692 centenarians last year as a funding source for the remaining 755 others was only included in the 2023 budget.
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