MANILA, Philippines – Poor social pension coverage poses a “troubling problem” for the Philippines, which saw a steep growth in its citizens’ life expectancy in the past decade, said the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The UN agency said that from 2000 to 2015, life expectancy in the developing country grew by 5 years – the fastest increase observed since the 1960s.
“This makes the low pension coverage a particularly troubling problem, creating additional financial burdens for family, as the ratio between elderly parents and adult children rise,” said the ILO.
The ILO noted that the Philippines lags behind other Asian countries in providing pension for its elderly citizens. Neighboring countries such as China, Thailand, and Brunei Darussalam, meanwhile, have already expanded pension coverage by funding it through universal tax. (READ: Asia Pacific lags in social protection spending – UN survey)
“In 2017, the government made efforts to increase benefit levels of senior citizens receiving contributory pension and to increase the social pension coverage of indigent senior citizens. However, around 40% of Filipino senior citizens are still left without income security,” said the ILO.
Based on figures from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), there are 8 million senior citizens in the country.
President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the P1,000-increase in the state-run Social Security System pension, but a lot of the Filipino elderly still have no access to it. As of March this year, the SSS recorded that it only pays out benefits to some 1.28 million retirees. (READ: Without pension, senior citizens forced to continue working)
The huge incidence of informal work bars Filipinos from paying the contribution rates of the state pension provider. (FAST FACTS: What you need to know about PH's informal sector workers)
The DSWD had tried narrow the gap by granting P500-monthly pension to indigent seniors, but the program only covers 2.8 million beneficiaries.
Despite the gap, the government has listed social protection as a major agenda in the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan to reduce the vulnerability of the poor.
“We think this is a good time for the Philippines to follow the same path [of other countries] and extend protection to its elderly through the launch of a universal pension,” said ILO Manila COuntry Office Director Khalid Hassan.
Adequate social protection is one of the mechanisms listed under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to be able to eradicate global poverty by 2030. – Rappler.com