Older people in the Philippines push for promised pensions
The older people were very enthusiastic after the passage of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act earlier this year. They were happy that the social pension is now included as one of the most important provisions of the bill. It was the older people themselves (COPAP) who lobbied intensely for the passage of this bill.
Older people play a crucial role
The older people are now committed to monitoring the implementation of the law. That's why they are taking part in Age Demands Action this year- 2000 older people are marching today to call for full implementation of the law, giving pensions to older people over 60.
Last week, the older people in Graceville, Harmony and Muzon, Bulacan organised a forum and invited their local government officials to attend. The officers of the groups of older people made sure that the captains of the 3 barangays (administrative districts) of Muzon, Graceville and Harmony were present at the meeting to present their views and programmes for older people.
Older people meet local government officials
Older people spoke to make the officials aware of the rights and privileges of senior citizens. They emphasised the role that local government officials should be playing in implementing the Expanded Senior Citizens Act and they pointed out that the local government units are mandated by law to establish a programme to prioritise older people in times of emergency and to make sure that indigent senior citizens are given health cards. The role of the local government units in the implementation of the social pension was also emphasised at the meeting.
Plans to enhance programmes for older people
As a response to the challenges to the local government units, all the 3 barangay captains presented their programmes and plans in front of the 70 leaders of older people representing the 3 barangays. It was really a good response from them because they said that they already have existing programmes but still have plans to enhance their programmes for older people. They said they will do this not only because it's mandated by law but because they know that older people issues need to be addressed.
First older people receiving pensions
One barangay captain from Graceville presented his ongoing programmes and future plans for older people. He really inspired the older people but, most importantly, the other barangay captains. His barangay was the first barangay which gave a social pension amounting to 500 Pesos to 6 of the poorest older people. It was not the barangay captain who identified the 6 beneficiaries but he coordinated with the older people's group and the older people themselves who identified the poorest among them. Just recently, he also set up an office for the senior citizens in the barangay where older people can conduct their meetings and activities.