This is this year’s celebration of National Elderly Week, which was the focus of the maiden episode of the Kapihan sa Abra on October 2.
Marino Trinidad, president of the Cordillera Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Associations (FSCA), emphasized the rights of the elderlies as provided for in Republic Act No. 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Trinidad presented the salient provisions of the law which include among others, the benefits of senior citizens (SC) such as social pension for those with no visible regular income, the 20% discount on transport fares and medicines, 5% discount on groceries, LPG and electric and water bills, and now the lifetime membership in the PhilHealth for free hospitalization.
Issues and concerns of the SC were raised and clarified by Trinidad and the support agencies who were also presentOne issue raised was how SCs are determined for the social pension program. Media often receive feedback that the listing of SC pensioners was allegedly influenced by local officials, hence there are those even more qualified to receive the benefit but were not included in the list. But Trinidad explained the process of selection was based on the result of the Household Targeting Survey conducted by the DSWD.
The issue of violation against the elderly was also raised since there are cases of GSIS pensioners who are not allegedly properly taken care of by their family members. Trinidad explained that the pension of the elderlies rightly belongs to them for their lifetime sustenance since they labored and saved for it. He said cases like these should be reported to the Office of SC Affairs (OSCA).
Nelda Dupingay, focal person on SC in the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, assured that they will conduct home visitation to the victims to address the problem.
Jocelyn Rojo of the Department of Interior and Local Government added that the issue on the violence against SCs should be tackled in the barangay government units since Gender and Development which covers the elderly sector is already being mainstreamed.
Franco Ching, chief of the Consumer Protection Unit of the Department of Trade and Industry clarified the 5% discount on groceries. He explained that not all basic and prime commodities are subject to 5% discount and that there is also a limit of up to P1, 300.00 worth of goods only per week.
The 5% discount on electric bill is limited only to those whose monthly consumption is below 100 kilowatts and the account should be in the name of the SC, he also clarified.
Trinidad also bared that the SCs are lobbying for amendment of some of the provisions of RA 9994 particularly the giving of cash gift of P100, 000.00 to centenarians. They are proposing that at age 80, the elderly would be given P80, 000.00 and if he or she reaches the age of 100, the remaining P20, 000.00 shall be given. This way, the elderly would enjoy the cash benefit better.
The Kapihan sa Abra is a project of the Philippine Information Agency, in partnership with the Highly United Journalists of Abra for Truth and Transparency (HUJATT), an association of media in the province headed by Pastor Rommel Tubadeza. It is live streamed on PIA facebook and aired over the local radio stations in Abra. By Maria Teresa B. Beñas (JDP/MTBB - PIA-CAR, Abra)