By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. on Wednesday urged the Senate to support the passage of a measure that seeks to amend the Centenarians Law and allow elderly citizens to avail of their benefits much earlier.
Revilla, subcommittee chair of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development, was referring to Senate Bill No. 1319 which provides a staggered release of monetary benefits for senior citizens before they reach the age of 100.
If passed into law, the measure will entitle Filipino elders to P10,000 when they reach 80 years old, another P10,000 at 90, and P100,000 at 100 years old.
Revilla originally proposed to give P25,000 to octogenarians, another P25,000 to nanogenarians, and P50,000 to centenarians, but funds would not permit such a scheme.
The senator said that due to declining health conditions, centenarians who previously received P100,000 can no longer understand and appreciate the benefits of the cash gift.
If amended, cash gifts will be given at a time when they are still able to enjoy it for themselves and use it for their food, medical care, and other needs.
“We are pushing for the passage of the bill because we want our elderlies to enjoy their benefits the government is giving them,” Revilla said.
“We are doing it in recognition of the noble goal of the Centenarian Law and we just want them to fully enjoy the many benefits our elder citizens can enjoy from it.”
Revilla also emphasized that the measure is in line with the Constitution which recognizes the duty of the family to take care of its elderly members. “This is how highly we value our culture of taking care of our elderly. This proposed measure, therefore, is another legislative effort in testimony of this unique Filipino culture.”
In a letter read by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Sen. Leila De Lima, who chairs the committee on Senate social justice, welfare, and rural development, lent her support to the passage of the bill.
“To provide our senior citizens with the modest support for their needs and the motivation to live longer towards reaching their centenary age, this measure aims to expand the coverage of Republic Act No. 10868 to include those Filipinos reaching the age of 80 and 90 years old and grant them an acceptable cash gift for reaching this age,” De Lima said.
As a senior citizen herself, De Lima said she can start to feel and relate more with them.
“It is a privilege to age and celebrate the gift of life that God gave us. But as we reach old age, the decline of the senior citizens’ productive capacity exposes this sector to various vulnerabilities, and the government must be there to afford them the support they need together with their families,” she said.