All about seniors

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A BILL has been filed in Congress that seeks to give additional benefits to the senior citizens of the country. The bill wants to amend Republic Act No. 7432, otherwise known as “An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges and for Other Purposes.”

This is a proposal that gives due respect not only to age but also to life itself.

The bill’s author cited a report in 2010 that said that there is an estimated 6.3 million elderly Filipinos aged 60 years and above or 6.9 percent of the country’s population. A report of the United Nations Population Fund called “Ageing in the Twenty First Century: A Celebration and a Challenge” estimated the population of senior citizens to reach 23.63 million by 2050.


The bill seeks to increase the discount given to senior citizens. But its author might be up for a surprise because even right now some establishments merely pay lip service to the law.

One bank along what was once called Mango Ave., has put up four machines that give numbers to the clients without distinguishing whether one is a senior citizen or not.

A client is served when his number is called regardless of age. Often, a client waits for his number to appear on a display board for, well, 10 minutes to 30 minutes (or even more). And the bank claims it is giving its clients quick service.

Perhaps, if the four tellers are assigned just ten consecutive numbers at a time, service could be faster, since one teller would deal only with one to ten, then eleven to twenty.

At any rate, while the bill increases senior citizens’ discount from 20 percent to 30 percent, the move might instead compound the seniors’ woes instead of easing their lives, as establishments might also sharpen their skill and mastery of how to evade the law.

“Ageing is a life-long process,” so it is said. “Today’s young people will be part of the population of the older people in 2050.” The bill’s author said age is one barrier to employment here.

“Without a steady source of income or a stable job,” according to Rep. Frederick Abueg, author of the bill, “our senior citizens only rely on their pensions, gifts or allowances given by relatives, and sometimes, by their own pagsusmikap to make ends meet.”

Without a steady income, the seniors of the country become just a little more like mendicants.

At the moment, the seniors’ poverty incidence rate was 15.1 percent in 2003 and 16.2 percent in 2006. Only a small percentage from their sector is covered with pensions because a good portion belongs to the informal sector. In our culture, for as long as a senior citizen lives among relatives, he can depend on them for support regardless of how old he is.

Poverty in our way of life is not actually a hindrance to survival for as long as there is food to eat by the blood kin. But then, we want our seniors to enjoy a little the last years of their life.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 14, 2014.


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