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By EDD K. USMAN | Twitter: @edd1819 | Instagram: @bluestar0910 | Facebook: SDN — SciTech and Digital News
COTABATO CITY – “Tatanda rin kayo!” (You’ll get old, too.)
This phrase must be in the mind of a legislator in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), apparently highly respectful of his elders. In the Philippines, once a Filipino reaches 60 years, he or she is considered a “senior citizen” endowed with particular rights by law.
To emphasize Minister of Parliament (MP) Dr. Kadil Jojo M. Sinolinding, Jr.’s love for the seniors in the Bangsamoro region, he filed a bill that seeks to create an office duly recognizing the rights of senior citizens. He introduced Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) Parliament Bill No. 121 on March 20 for its first reading.
For those who do not know yet, Sinolinding is a medical professional — ophthalmologist — in Maguindanao well known for his philanthropic work through his program on free cataract operations. His name is a by-word at least in the BARMM.
His BTA Bill No. 121 is also known as the Bangsamoro Commission for Senior Citizen Act of 2022. Through his bill, he wants to establish an office mandated to ensuring the rights and privileges of senior citizens are respected and fully implemented across all government laws, policies, and programs.
Republic Act No. 9994 says that everyone who resides in the Philippines and is at least 60 years old is considered a senior citizen or an elderly person.
“This bill seeks to establish a mechanism for the beloved senior citizens, since all of us will turn 60 years old and become one,” said Sinolinding.
Recognizing that the elderly are an integral part of the region and Philippine society, the proposed bill also seeks to provide full support for their overall well-being and full participation in society.
The Bangsamoro doctor said his bill aims to motivate and encourage senior citizens to contribute to nation-building; encourage their families and the communities in which they live to reaffirm the valued Filipino tradition of caring for senior citizens; provide a comprehensive health care and rehabilitation system for disabled senior citizens; and recognize the important role of the private sector in the improvement of senior citizens’ welfare.
Sinolinding’s legislative measure, if enacted and signed by Bangsamoro Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, will surely go a long way in helping BARMM senior citizens in their struggles to survive every day — food, medicines, health needs, among other gauntlet of scarcities.
What with the dire economic status of Bangsamoro senior citizens.
The Philippine Statistics Office (PSA) released in 2018 a study on seniors conducted at the time of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), a time when BARMM was still not existing. Thus, the results of the survey only cover only the ARMM component areas, although the report by the PSA mentioned BARMM to prevent confusion.
PSA’s post-study report released on June 18, 2020, was titled “2018 Full–Year Poverty Statistics among Senior Citizens in BARMM”. The population agency conducted the survey, comparing senior citizens’ situation in 2015 and 2018.
In a nutshell, as the PSA survey showed, there are 30,600 senior citizens in the ARMM who are poor.
100 years old seniors to receive Php100,000
In 2015, their situation in terms of Poverty Incidence and Subsistence Incidence was at 41.7 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. In 2018, these figures rose at 44.9 percent and 18.9 percent, which could mean the ARMM leadership failed to lift the situation of the Moro people.
“The proportion of food poor senior citizens in BARMM increased by 3.6 percentage points, from 14.6 percent in 2015 to 18.2 percent in 2018. These are the individuals aged 60 years old and above who belong to a family with per capita income that is less than the food threshold, or the minimum amount needed to meet the basic food needs of a person. The food threshold in BARMM in 2018 is Php19,557,” the PSA pointed out.
“BARMM (that’s ARMM) also recorded the highest subsistence incidence, or the proportion of food poor individuals, among senior citizens in 2018.”
So, based on the PSA survey, Sinolinding’s bill would be a big help if it gets passed and signed into law.
His bill’s proposed Commission shall, among other things: formulate and implement policies for the promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of senior citizens; conduct information, education, and communication campaigns to raise awareness on the rights of senior citizens; and review and recommend appropriate actions and policies to the BTA and Bangsamoro Government.
Under the proposed measure, the core programs of the Commission include social pensions, centenarian benefits, and social safety nets.
A monthly stipend of at least Php1,000 will be provided to low-income seniors under the social pension program to help with basic living expenses and medical care.
Centenarian benefits will also be provided to senior citizens who reach the age of 100, including a letter of felicitation signed by the President and a Php100,000 centenarian gift in recognition of their longevity. The Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) will present a posthumous plaque of recognition to the deceased centenarian, which will be accepted by the centenarian’s nearest surviving relative.
They will also receive social security assistance intended to cushion the effects of economic shocks, disasters, and calamities. This includes food, medicine, and financial assistance for home repairs. (✓)
Bangsamoro Parliament and Philippine Statistics Office (PSA)