Assistant Director Delia Bawan of DSWD-NCR welcomes the participants to the Forum on RA 9994 or Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010; leaders of senior citizens groups discuss issues affecting their sector with Congressman Godofredo Arquiza, representative of the Senior Citizen Party List; Sama-Bajaus join the Elderly Filipino Week Intergenerational Concert at SM Fairview; the lolos and lolas of Golden Acres Home for the Aged, a residential care facility managed by DSWD render song and dance numbers during the Dalaw Kalinga, as part of the Elderly Filipino week celebration.
Leaders of senior citizens’ associations batted for the inclusion of the 60-76 year-old indigent older persons to the social pension program of the government implemented through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
“Indigent seniors aged 60-76 also need the assistance of government so we are lobbying that they be included in the social pension program,” Mr. Jorge Banal, President of the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP) NCR said. The provision of the P500 monthly social pension to 77 years old and above indigent senior is provided under RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act (ESCA) of 2010.
This was among the issues raised during the Forum on RA 9994 held recently at Bayview Park Hotel, Roxas Boulevard, Manila organized by the DSWD and the Senior Citizens Party List led by Congressmen Godofredo Arquiza and David Kho, in connection with the Elderly Filipino Week celebration.
As of October 2012, about 184,000 older persons have been provided with social pension for a total of P518.6 million.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman explained that the DSWD is hoping that the budget for 2013 will be enough to include the 60-76 year-old indigent senior citizens in the social pension program. “We cannot include them now because the budget provided by Congress is just adequate for the 77 years old and above. We are encouraging the organized associations of older persons to help us ensure that the assistance being given by the government goes directly to the intended beneficiaries,” Secretary Soliman added.
Assistant Bureau Director Delia Bawan of DSWD-NCR welcomed the participants from the different senior citizens’ associations and the local government units of Metro Manila and reiterated DSWD’s commitment to assist and empower the older persons sector.
Another issue is the full implementation of RA 9994. Some senior citizens belonging to the different associations reported that small ‘neighborhood’ drug stores do not give the 20 percent discount as specified under the law. The National Coordinating and Monitoring Board(NCMB) lodged with the DSWD as the body in charge of monitoring complaints filed by senior citizens on violations against RA 9994, clarified that the law states that all drug stores, whether big or small have to grant the 20 percent discount because they get tax rebates from the government in return. Senior citizens are urged to report violations to the DSWD NCMB at telephone number 9517120 and email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) led the Inter-Generational Concert dubbed as “Young Ones for the Young Once,” held at SM Fairview. The event also dramatized “Age Demands Action” (ADA), a grassroots campaign to fight age discrimination and enhance public awareness on issues affecting older people such as pensions, healthcare and housing.
Youth dance groups and older persons shared center stage with teen idol Paolo Valenciano, youngest son of matinee idol Gary Valenciano and Angeli Pangilinan, Cookie Chua, Gary Granada, and the GSIS Chorale, to the delight of the audience composed predominantly of senior citizens from COSE, Coalition of Older Persons in the Philippines (COPAP) and Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP) NCR.
The DSWD and its partner non-government organizations (NGOs) and senior citizens’ associations also conducted the Dalaw Kalinga visit to abandoned and unattached older persons in Golden Acres Home for the Aged in Bago Bantay, Quezon City and Haven for the Elderly in Tanay, Rizal.
This year’s EFW theme “Nakatatanda: Sa Bisa ng RA 9994, May Dangal, Nagkakaisa, Buhay ay Gumiginhawa,” focuses on the contributions of RA 9994 to the improvement of lives of older persons. ###