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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Senior citizens commission

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"Our country's seniors deserve no less."



The House and the Senate passed last month their versions of a soon-to-be enacted law creating a National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) that will be under the Office of the President.

In July 2018, the Department of Budget and Management’s lawyer Avvy Christabelle Alba was against the creation of such a body, citing the cost and duplication of functions of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

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“It will cost the government about P500 million or more, especially if provincial offices will be established,” she said at the time at a joint hearing of the House Committee on Government Reorganization and the House Committee on Population and Family Relations.

Atty.  Alba hit it on the nose with her estimate. Funds of P520 million were allocated for the commission’s establishment in this year’s national budget under the OP, in anticipation of the law’s enactment.

As for her other concerns, the new agency will absorb the functions of the DSWD related to senior citizens. It also has the power to put up regional offices under the guidance of its six commissioners who are to come from the various regions of the country.

The bill’s authors in the House, among them its principal author, Senior Citizens partylist Rep. Francisco Datol, argued that the Office of Senior Citizens’ Affairs, which is under the local government units, is functionally ineffective.

From the explanatory note to an earlier version of the bill: “In reality, OSCA currently functions merely as a liaison center for senior citizens, concerned mainly with maintaining a regular update on the list of senior citizens and issuing national individual identification cards.

“Across local government units, it has been observed that there is a lack of cohesiveness in terms of services rendered and implementation of these laws by the various OSCA.” There is more of such criticism, equally scathing.

The creation of a single nationwide agency that will implement and enforce senior citizen-related laws and monitor compliance is expected to benefit the more than 8 million senior citizens we are calculated to have at present. That’s 8.2 percent of the population, as estimated by the Commission on Population in January 2018. Of this group, a little over 5 million are 65 and older.

The number of seniors is expected to grow to 11.5 percent of the total population by 2030, according to the National Statistics Office in 2017.

The Philippines is not the only country with an aging population (defined as 7 percent of a nation’s population). The entire world’s population is becoming older, according to the United Nations.

“Population ageing,” goes a report on their website, “is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labor and financial markets, the demand for goods and services such as housing, transportation, and social protection…”

“Globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.”

Datol said last week that the NCSC should be up and running by the third or fourth quarter of the year. Meanwhile, “the search for appointees to the commission can begin now,” he said.

The Commission can play a vital role in the welfare of the nation’s seniors if it is staffed with intelligent, hardworking, and caring people who will take this opportunity to deliver essential frontline services to one of the most vulnerable sectors of our society.

In line with that, here’s a question: with the establishment of this new commission, as with other newly-created agencies, how do people know where to apply for jobs? Where do they send their CVs and PDSs (personal data sheet)?

Government offices everywhere are staffed with the incompetent and the inept, their more capable officemates doing the heavy lifting. An organization in this situation can only render half the services it ought at twice the time.

As it is starting from scratch, the NCSC has the amazing chance to do it right from the start. Our country’s seniors deserve no less.

On one hand you have ‘senior citizen’, on the other you have ‘Juan Ponce Enrile.’ #immortal / FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO

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