"Lawmakers should address the gap."
Last Tuesday, I attended the 24th Provincial Convention of Senior Citizens in Lucena, Quezon. Thousands of senior citizens from different municipalities in Quezon joined the event. Every year, Quezon province celebrates the significant contributions of its senior citizens in society, particularly in Quezon’s agricultural sector, social development, and economic growth, and gives back to honor them.
This year, the convention focused on improving health and productivity of the elderly. This is one important aspect of aging that should be given utmost importance. It has been a common notion that once people reach 60, they focus their attention to retirement. The compulsory retirement age gives private companies and the public sector the right to disengage workers upon reaching the age of 65 and grant them retirement benefits.
That being said, the sad reality is that many of the elderly strive to remain productive. The rising costs of basic goods and services, especially medicines and health care, drives senior citizens to find jobs suitable for them to sustain the needs of their families. Some of the elderly live away from their children or receive less-than-adequate financial support from family members and the government. They are never freed from the obligation to work.
While some of our seniors are constrained to work, some are left with nothing to do upon retirement, especially those who have been maintaining an active lifestyle and are capable of continuing their normal day work. Those who are still willing and able should be given the opportunity to be productive.
In this regard, I would like to call the attention of our lawmakers to address this gap. With the efforts of some of our distinguished legislators, there are bills filed in Congress that aim to expand existing financial support to the elderly. One notable proposal was House Bill No. 5362 or the Senior Citizens Employment Opportunity Act authored by Honorable Representative Ronnie Ong. The bill seeks to expand the labor program to allow senior citizens to remain in the workforce and provide incentives to private companies. This piece of legislation will definitely maximize the contributive efforts of our elderly and allow them to continue providing for their families, if needed.
Aside from this, the Honorable Representative of the Third District of Quezon, Congresswoman Aleta Suarez, has filed the Parental Welfare and Support Act which requires children to support their elderly parents. House Majority Assistant Floor Leader David “Jayjay” Suarez and ALONA Party-list Representative Anna Villaraza-Suarez have both proposed the increasing of the discounts granted to senior citizens from 20 percent to 30 percent on certain goods and services. These legislative measures endeavor to provide our senior citizens with the most benefits given their significant role as foundations of society. I fervently hope that these measures be given expedited response in both Houses, for the welfare of our senior citizens.
I also call on the expansion and improvement of the benefits received by the senior citizens, specifically the health care benefits and incentives. The provincial government of Quezon launched the health coupon program, also known as the Lingap Kalusugan Program, where senior citizens shall be exempted from paying the costs of certain medical services such as CT scan and MRI scanning. This has a potential in reducing necessary expenses by the senior citizens, thereby relieving them of the financial burden.
I seek the support of the national government in the enactment of these measures. Our senior citizens have been our source of strength and wisdom. Let us allow them to live healthy and remain productive in their own ways. It is our duty to put their interests at heart, as they have put ours in theirs. Let us work together to give back as much as we can for their invaluable service and dedication to their families, their communities, and the nation.