Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima throws her support behind a campaign of a coalition of advocates for the welfare of senior citizens which calls on the government to include everyone in the sector as beneficiaries of the social amelioration program (SAP).
De Lima made the statement after the Coalition of Services of the Elderly and Senior Citizens Organization (COSE) issued an appeal to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to accommodate in SAP all senior citizens, regardless of income level or eligibility to monthly pension.
“I am in full solidarity with COSE and all elderly Filipinos in their clamor for their full protection and support from the government in this time of need, regardless of anyone’s station in life and economic status,” she said.
“Sa kinakaharap natin na krisis, hindi na tayo dapat namimili pa kung sino ang dapat na proprotektahan ng ating gobyerno. Lahat tayo ay apektado kaya dapat lahat tayo ay protektado,” she added.
In the joint statement in the name of 16 national and municipal senior citizen groups, COSE explained that senior citizens who receive their monthly pensions also experience difficulties during the ongoing quarantine period in most parts of the country.
They argue that the average amount of monthly pension that a senior citizen receives from their previous employer is estimated to be just around PhP5,000 or even lower, which is hardly enough to cover the increasing costs of living, that mostly entail purchasing maintenance medicine and other healthcare needs.
COSE cited a study from the Longitudinal Study of Ageing and Health in the Philippines (LSHAP) which found that even for a majority of senior citizens who receive remittances from family members abroad, their budget is still inadequate.
“We reiterate that targeting poor senior citizens is over-rated in normal times and doing so again doesn’t make much sense during a pandemic where virtually every older woman and man are affected and vulnerable,” COSE said in their statement.
COSE likewise pointed out the delays in the distribution of the social pension of senior citizens from the DSWD and the unconditional cash transfer, as provided by the TRAIN law.
“Nanawagan po ako sa pamahalaan na bigyan ng ayuda at kalingain ang lahat nating matatanda. At sana naman ay bilisan na ang pamamahagi ng tulong para sa kanila,” De Lima said.
“Lubhang nakakalungkot na lagpas isang buwan na ang Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) ngunit ang tulong na para dapat sa lahat na matatanda ay kulang na nga at hindi pa nakakarating sa mga pinaglaanan,” she added.
De Lima, a senior citizen and a grandmother herself, has continued to advocate for the improved welfare for senior citizens in the country.
Last April 16, she filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1434, which seeks to legislate guaranteed protection against abuse for the elderly, including appropriate penalties for their abusers.
It can also be recalled that last February 29, De Lima, in her capacity as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, also sponsored SB 1319 to expand the Centenarian Act of 2016 by also giving cash gifts to those who will reach 80 and 90 years old respectively.
“Nanawagan po ako sa pamahalaan na bigyan ng ayuda at kalingain ang lahat nating matatanda. At sana naman ay bilisan na ang pamamahagi ng tulong para sa kanila,” she said.
“Lahat ng matatanda ay nangangailangan. Lahat sila ay dapat protektahan,” she added. (30)