Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed a measure which seeks to provide monthly living pension to qualified indigent senior citizens to enable them to live dignified lives and ensure that their personal and medical needs are supported.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1880 seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7432, as amended by R.A. No. 9994, otherwise known as the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act Of 2010.”
“In the Philippines, there are not a lot of employment opportunities for senior citizens, leaving them financially insecure and largely dependent on their families,” she said.
Based on a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) figures, there are more than seven million senior citizens in the Philippines, of whom more than one million live in poverty, while 329,000 are persons with disability, and about 2.5 million are women.
De Lima noted that these figures suggest that senior citizens are exposed to the vulnerabilities of ageism, which is described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the stereotyping and discrimination against people on the basis of their age.
“There are of course ways in which to address these challenges and the most concrete initiative is to enact legislative measures that can respond to specific areas of concern,” she said.
Under the existing law, De Lima said indigent senior citizens are entitled to a monthly stipend, which only amounts to 500 pesos, as provided by the government.
To truly provide the much-needed assistance to senior citizens, De Lima proposed under SB No. 1880 to increase the monthly stipend currently provided to them by converting it to a living pension.
From 500 pesos, De Lima proposed a monthly living pension amounting to 2,000 pesos to augment the senior citizens’ daily subsistence and other medical needs, which is subject to inflationary adjustment review every three years by Congress.
“While the amount of assistance provided in this bill may not fully cover the expenses of our qualified senior citizens in light of ever rising prices of commodities, it can still significantly contribute to enabling our senior citizens to live dignified lives,” she explained.
Due to the limited nature of the government resources, De Lima said her proposed measure also seeks to clearly define the qualified beneficiaries to ensure that “this legislation only benefits those who truly need them.”
Under her proposed measure, De Lima identified the qualified senior citizens to include those who can no longer work due to age, debilitating physical, mental or psychological conditions and those who are undergoing treatment for life threatening disease/s.
De Lima added that senior citizens who served in government, either civil service or military, for at least 10 years, and left employment voluntarily, are also qualified under SB No. 1880. Despite being detained based on trumped-up drug charges, De Lima has continued to file meaningful legislative measures for the benefit of the Filipino people, including those from the vulnerable sectors of society.