OVER 11,000 people from all sectors nationwide kicked off week-long activities and events in celebration of Elderly Filipino Week this month to increase public awareness on various issues that affect the senior citizen sector.
The nationwide simultaneous one-kilometer walk billed as “Walk for Life” started at 5 a.m. in 16 key venues all over the country.
Activities also included the “Sampung Ulirang Nakatatanda” (SUN) Awards in recognition of heroes among unsung older people who have made a difference in the lives of many and have given exemplary services in their communities.
Most of them are farmers, indigenous people, women and persons with disabilities. Awards rites were held at the DAPA Hall of the Philippine Heart Center.
SM North Edsa Skydome also hosted “Talakayan/Forum on Elder Abuse and SSS Pension” to thresh out and present legislative measures on pressing issues of the sector, including elder abuse and low benefit level from SSS.
The “Elderly Filipino Week,” a celebration every October to give tribute to the senior citizens of the Philippines, was organized by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in partnership with other government agencies, local government units and non-government organizations.
During the week-long celebration, senior citizens—those above 60 years of age—enjoy exhibits and cultural shows, free medical checkup, medicines, cataract operation, eyeglasses, and dentures.
Elderly Filipinos constitute about 6.8 percent of the present population of 105 million, according to figures available from the Philippne Statistics Authority.
The formation of events for the older community of the Philippines was in accordance to the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 37/51 of Dec. 3, 1982 to pursue an International Action Plan on Aging.
Presidential Proclamation No. 470, which mandates the annual celebration of the Elderly Filipino Week to give importance to the roles of senior citizens in helping build the nation, aims to address the issues concerning the older people’s sector.
DSWD has been given the responsibility to develop a social welfare program designed to promote and enhance the well being of the elderly.
Highlighting the week’s Metro Manila celebration led by SM Foundation, Inc. and SM Cares Program on Senior Citizen Affairs, was an exposition/exhibit of golden memorabilia and old possessions of the senior citizens to provide a glimpse of halcyon days, the genteel and gentle past as reminder of a vanishing lifestyle to the young ones.
Coinciding with SUN Awards rites was the launching of the “National Respect for Centenarians Day” provided for under Rule III of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10868 (Centenarians Act of 2016), declaring the first Sunday of October as the National Respect for Centenarians Day.
The country observed the first official National Centenarians Day last October 2.
Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto authored the Filipino Centenarians Act or Republic Act 10868 that provides a P100,000 cash gift from the government and “a personal letter of felicitation from the President.”
“In short, a treasury check and birthday card from President Digong,” Recto said.
Based on the 3,553 centenarians in the database of DSWD, about P355 million for the cash gift is needed.
This amount, however, did not make it to the DSWD’s P129.8 billion proposed budget for 2017. Under RA 10868, DSWD takes care of distributing the cash gift.
Recto said Congress should appropriate funds for the full implementation of the Centenarians Act in the 2017 budget.
“And when it does, it should see to it that it will use the right census figures in computing the amount required,” Recto said.
He said the 3,553 cited by DSWD could just be one-fourth of the actual number of centenarians in the country.
The official 2010 Philippine population census counted 4,728 centenarians in 2010. Their number was projected to increase to 9,195 in 2013 and to 12,775 by end of 2016.