A bill penalizing the “criminal neglect,” abuse and abandonment of senior citizens and people with disability has been filed at the House of Representatives.
Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas filed the proposed Care for the Elderly and Persons with Disability Act out of concern over the rising incidents of abuse and abandonment of the elderly and disabled people. These cases were raised during consultations with representatives of those sectors.
“The rising cases of abandonment and abuse experienced by our elderly and PWDs is troubling, especially amid a pandemic where they are most vulnerable,” Vargas said.
“We should not allow such abuse being committed against our elderly and the PWDs. Instead, we must give them proper attention, care and respect.”
According to the Demographic Research and Development Foundation Inc., the elderly sector is the fastest growing sector in the country, accounting for seven percent of the population, and projected to increase to 16 percent by 2045.
Based on the foundation’s 2018 Longitudinal Study of Aging and Health in the Philippines, nearly half (47 percent) of the older people in the country are beneficiaries of the P500-monthly social pension provided by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Meanwhile, the DSWD’s National Household Targeting Data revealed that as of 2016 there were about 277,000 “poor” people with disability.
If the bill is passed, the people found guilty of criminal neglect would be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year but not exceeding five years, and a fine not less than ten thousand P10,000 but not exceeding P100,000.00.
The measure provides that a person is guilty of criminal neglect if he/she:
“Knowingly acts in a manner likely to cause the vulnerable elderly person or the person with a disability’s life to be endangered, health to be injured, or preexisting physical or mental condition to deteriorate;
“Fails to perform acts which he or she knows or reasonably should know are necessary to maintain or preserve the life or health of the vulnerable elderly person or the person with a disability and such failure causes said person’s life to be endangered, health to be injured or pre-existing physical or mental condition to deteriorate; and “Abandons the vulnerable elderly person or the person with a disability.”
Vargas said it was the government’s duty to protect the elderly and PWDs from neglect and abuse, and expressed hopes his bill would help promote their welfare and provide mechanisms for legal redress.
“The rights and welfare of our elderly and PWDs are enshrined in the Constitution, and it is government’s duty to protect them, particularly those who are mired in poverty and have difficulty fending for themselves,” he said.