As the lead agency in social protection, the Department of Social Welfare and Development continuously conducts advocacy activities to promote the rights and welfare of the disadvantaged and vulnerable sector, including older persons.
One form of advocacy is the celebration of the Elderly Filipino Week on October 1-7 to be led by the DSWD in partnership with other government agencies, local government units (LGU), and senior citizens associations.
This year’s theme, “Pagmamahal at Respeto ng Nakababata, Nagpapaligaya sa Nakatatanda”, emphasizes that older persons should be loved, cared for, and respected.
Jorge Banal, president of the Federation of Senior Citizens in the Philippines, National Capital Region chapter laments that some young people nowadays seem to have lost respect for their elders.
“Minsan hindi na pinapaupo sa mga bus, o kaya ay binabalewala na lang (Sometimes, older persons are not given seats in buses or they are just taken for granted),” he said.
For her part, DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said, “Ang mga nakatatanda ay kailangan ng aruga at respeto sapagka’t ginugol nila ang kanilang buong buhay para sa pagtatrabaho at pagisislbi sa kanilang pamilya, komunidad at bansa (Older persons need care and respect because they spent their whole lives working for, and serving their families, communities and country).”
On September 26, President Rodrigo R. Duterte led the ceremonial signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016 at the Malacañang Palace.
The law states that all Filipinos, who have reached 100 years old and above, whether residing in the Philippines or abroad shall be honored with a Letter of Felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating the celebrant for his or her longevity; and a Centenarian gift in the amount of one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000).
As part of the annual Elderly Filipino Week on October 1-7, the first Sunday of October is also declared as National Respect for Centenarians Day during which, all Filipinos who have turned centenarian in the current fiscal year shall be awarded a plaque of recognition and a cash incentive by their respective city or municipal governments in appropriate ceremonies in addition to the Letter of Felicitation and centenarian gift.
Moreover, the Department continues to advocate for the strict implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which provides more benefits and privileges to older persons.
They are entitled to 20% discount on the purchase of certain goods and services, special 5% discount on prime commodities and basic necessities, and 5% utility discount on electric and water consumption.
“By implementing the law’s provisions, we are promoting and upholding their rights. The Department also encourages the public to report to the authorities cases of elderly abuse to ensure their well-being and protection,” Sec. Taguiwalo stated.
“The abuse of senior citizens should never be tolerated. In the same way that we care about children and protect them from abuse, we also care about senior citizens. Many of them are very vulnerable and they should not be subjected to neglect, exploitation, or abuse,” Sec. Taguiwalo added.
Presidential Proclamation No. 470 mandates the annual celebration of Elderly Filipino Week or Linggo ng Nakatatandang Filipino every first week of October to emphasize the important role that older persons play in nation building, as well as raise awareness, and address issues concerning the older persons’ sector.
The DSWD also implements a Social Pension Program particularly for indigent senior citizens, entitling them a P500 monthly stipend to augment their daily needs. The qualifying age was lowered from year to year – this year, the qualifying age is 60 years old. The DSWD has allotted PhP8,711,203,000 for 1.3 million indigent elders.
Aside from discounts and social pension, the improvement of centers is a priority for Sec. Taguiwalo. The DSWD currently maintains four residential centers for senior citizens who are abandoned and neglected. These are the Haven for the Elderly in Tanay Rizal and Zamboanga City; Home for the Aged in Tagum City; and Golden Reception and Centers for Elderly and other special needs or GRACES in Quezon City.
Likewise, different LGUs also provide community-based alternative living arrangements and senior citizens centers that serves as a venue for our older persons recreational, educational, health and social activities. The DSWD provides technical assistance in managing these senior citizens centers.
An information campaign encouraging the public to respect the rights of the elders and to report to the authorities cases of elderly abuse is also promoted by DSWD. # Source – Philippine Information Agency (PIA)