By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday pushed for a measure increasing the monthly living pension of qualified indigent senior citizens to support their personal and medical needs.
De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1880 seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) 7432, as amended by RA 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.
Citing a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) study, de Lima noted there are more than seven-million senior citizens in the Philippines, of whom more than one million live in poverty.
Of these figures, 329,000 are persons with disability and about 2.5-million are women.
The senator said this suggests that senior citizens are exposed to the vulnerabilities of ageism, 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 P500 as provided by the government.
In filing the bill, de Lima proposed to increase the monthly stipend currently provided to them by converting it to a living pension amounting to P2,000 to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.
This, she said, would be 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,” de Lima explained.
De Lima also said the bill has safeguards to clearly identify the qualified beneficiaries to ensure that the measure would only benefit “those who truly need them.”
The measure will include senior citizens 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.
Senior citizens who served in government, either civil service or military, for at least 10 years, and left employment voluntarily, are also qualified under the measure.