Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Monday directed the concerned City Hall offices to craft rules that would ensure the protection of the city’s senior citizens from all types of abuse.
Estrada is seeking the strict implementation of Ordinance No. 8488 approved by the city council last year that protects the physical, mental, and social well-being of 132,000 registered senior citizens in Manila.
“Respect for our elders has been an integral part of our Filipino culture but unfortunately we still hear of incidents of abuse, exploitation, and neglect of senior citizens. These must be stopped,” Estrada said.
Citing a study conducted by the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG), Estrada noted that children and elders rank highest in number in terms of perpetrating the abuse, followed by spouses and grandchildren.
While there have been no documented cases of elder maltreatment in the city in recent years, the mayor said this does not mean the city government will not do anything to protect the senior citizens from physical abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation.
“They are very frail and vulnerable to any ill treatment, and making them suffer, for me, is such a horrible act,” Estrada stressed.
On April 18, 2016, Estrada signed Ordinance No. 8488 or the “City of Manila Ordinance Against Elderly Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect” authored by Councilor Ernesto Dionisio, Jr., said to be the first legislation in the country that protects senior citizens specifically.
The ordinance defines elder abuse as “the physical, mental, or material maltreatment of an elderly person, including but not limited to beating and isolation, and deprivation of food and medication.”
It imposes a fine of P5,000 and a one-year imprisonment, or both, to any person who “willfully subjects an elderly person to ill-treatment, whether physical or verbal, in such manner as to degrade the inherent value of his person… or willfully subjects an elderly person to prolonged mental or emotional harassment.”
The city’s Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) said it is currently working with the barangay officials in creating a “rescue assistance” program for senior citizens.
“One measure we are considering is putting up a hotline or a senior citizens desk where concerned citizens could report any maltreatment of senior citizens or any activity or situation that causes intended, unintentional, or unnecessary harm to the elderly,” OSCA officer-in-charge Jeff Manansala said.
He said barangay officials will play a key part in this program since they know the neighborhood.
With his motto “Bata’t matanda, alaga sa Maynila” (Young and old, cared for in Manila), Estrada said that senior citizens occupy a special place in his heart because his mother, Doña Mary Ejercito, died on January 13, 2009 at the age of 103.
In March last year, he started a cash gift program where those who reach the age of 100 are being given P100,000.
Aside from this cash gift, every centenarian also receives P10,000 each during the yearly celebration of Araw ng Maynila on June 24.
Senior citizens in Manila are also entitled to free medical checkups, hospitalization, medicines and other healthcare services from the six city-run public hospitals and 59 community health centers. They also receive P500 cash gift on their birthdays.
Manila’s elderly can also watch movies for free on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays in any movie house in the city.