Press Release
January 29, 2019

Senate Oks measure creating senior citizens commission

The Senate on Monday, January 28, passed on third and final reading a measure creating a commission for the elderly.

Senate Bill No. 2159, under Committee Report 552, establishing the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC), was approved in the Senate with a vote of 12 and no abstention.

The bill is in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 674, 1881 and 2099 filed by Sen. Bam Aquino, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Sen. Sonny Angara, respectively.

Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, sponsor of the bill, said that the measure will create a body dedicate solely to handle the concerns of senior citizens, thereby abolishing the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board.

The board, created by Republic Act 9994 or the "Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010," is composed of heads of different government agencies.

Trillanes, acting chairman of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development in the absence of detained Sen. Leila de Lima, said the NCSC will be under the office of the President and will be composed of a chairperson and six commissioners.

The commissioners will represent and/or hold offices in the different regions in the country. An executive director, who will be appointed by the commission, will manage and supervise the commission's daily operations.

Aquino, principal author of the measure, said the NCSC, as a national agency, will formulate and implement policies, plans and programs that promote senior citizens' rights and privileges or address issues plaguing the sector.

"With sectors such as the youth, women and persons with disabilities having a specialized body catering to their constituents, it is about time that our Filipino seniors are awarded their own commission as well to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind," Aquino said.

Sotto said it is imperative to safeguard the rights of senior citizens and ensure the proper execution of their programs for their well-being.

"Filipinos have close family ties and the senior members of the family continue to support and provide for the family as long as they can. In this way, they find a strong sense of purpose, importance and fulfillment in this latter part of their lives. Also, being able to take care of themselves and not be a burden to their family brings them pride and self-actualization," Sotto said.

Angara, for his part, said that while there is an Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) in cities and municipalities, there is no central leadership to guide policies on a national scale and to ensure that senior citizens receive equal opportunities regardless of their place of residence.

The creation of NCSC also reaffirms the Philippines' commitment to empowering the elderly, as a signatory to the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Ageing: Empowering Older Persons in ASEAN which was adopted on November 21, 2015.

"Having a single cohesive agency will strengthen the capacity of the government to deliver high quality services to senior citizens and provide them with a platform of dialogue on their issues," Angara said.

Trillanes said some of the functions of the commission are to ensure the full implementation of laws, policies and programs for the elderly; formulate policies for the promotion and protection of their rights and well-being; conduct information and education campaigns to raise awareness of senior citizens' rights; and represent the Philippines in international functions, forums and other conferences involving senior citizens.

Trillanes said that with the aging population of the country, it is important to prepare for such population trend and the creation of the commission is a good start.

According to the Population Commission, the population of senior citizens in the country in 2018 could be 8 percent of the total population, or 8.013 million.

The United Nations Population Fund projected that the senior population in the Philippines is expected to hit 23.63 million by 2050.

"Growing old comes with a variety of challenges, from physical to economic. With situations like these, it is important that we create for senior citizens a supportive and an enabling environment where they are assisted and appreciated," Trillanes said.

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