To intensify its advocacy in promoting older persons’ rights and welfare, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will lead the annual nationwide observance of Elderly Filipino Week (EFW) on October 1-7, with this year’s theme, “Kilalanin at Parangalan: Tagasulong ng Karapatan ng Nakatatanda Tungo sa Lipunang Mapagkalinga.”

The theme is a take-off from the 2018 theme of the United Nations International Day for Older Persons (UNIDOP) which is a tribute to individuals, groups and older people around the world who dedicate their lives to championing older persons’ rights.

This annual event is by virtue of Proclamation No. 470 issued on September 26, 1994 which aims to increase public awareness on the different issues concerning the older persons’ sector.

The kick-off activity, ‘Walk for Life’, which will be spearheaded by the DSWD, Philhealth, and the National Commission on Population, will be held on September 30 at the Quezon City Memorial Circle, with more than 1,700 senior citizens from the 17 local government units in the National Capital Region.

The National Steering Committee (NSC) on EFW has lined-up a series of activities during the week-long celebration, namely: Eucharistic Mass, National Respect for Centenarians Day, “Kwento ni Lolo, Kwento ni Lola”, Talakayan 2018, Coronation of Ms. FSCAP Quezon City, Dalaw Kalinga, Wellness Camp, and Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda (SUN) Awards.

As part of the week-long celebration, there will be free LRT rides for senior citizens on October 1-7, 7-9AM and 5-7PM; and whole day MRT rides on October 3, 6, and 7.

Legislative measures for seniors’ welfare

The DSWD works closely with various senior citizens’ associations and non-government organizations (NGOs), such as the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) and Federation of Senior Citizens Associations in the Philippines (FSCAP), in advocating for legislative measures to ensure the protection of older persons.

These are the Elderly Abuse Law, Creation of the National Commission of Senior Citizens, and Universal Social Pension Bill.

The Elderly Abuse Bill is one of the priority legislative measures of DSWD which defines acts committed against senior citizens, impose penalties for its commission and the development of strategies to prevent or reduce the abuses committed against them.

Another bill seeks to establish a National Commission of Senior Citizens, to become the primary government agency responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans, and programs for senior citizens to protect and promote their rights.

Meanwhile, the Universal Social Pension Bill which proposes a P1,500 universal social pension for all senior citizens is also being advocated by the Department and partner NGOs.

According to DSWD Secretary Virginia N. Orogo, indigent older persons aged 60 years and above are entitled to a monthly social pension of  P500 through the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens program implemented by the Department.

“However, despite the introduction of social pension, the current pension system in the Philippines is still a long way from providing a basic income security guarantee that all Filipinos can look forward to in their old age,” Sec. Orogo added.

The DSWD, COSE and other partner non-government organizations work on closing the gap and improving the implementation of the Social Pension program through evidence-based and people-led policy advocacy and lobbying; building policy-influencing skills of older activists; active participation in the budgeting process and systematic monitoring of the law from grassroots to national level. ###