Press Release
August 29, 2019


Taking up the cudgels for the country's senior citizens, Sen. Grace Poe has filed a bill that would protect them from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Senate Bill No. 946 or the proposed "Elder Victim Assistance Act" seeks to institutionalize an assistance program to victims of elder abuse and the training of health and government professionals to assist them.

"Maswerte tayo kung kasama natin ang mga senior citizen sa ating bahay. Pero paano na 'yung mga nag-iisa, 'yung mga nakikitira o kaya naman ay walang kamag-anak. Walang araw na lumilipas na hindi sila nakakaranas ng pagwawalang-bahala o kaya abuso," Poe said.

"Gamitin natin ang pagkakataong ito para ipaglaban ang kanilang karapatan at siguruhin na maayos ang kanilang buhay sa pagtanda, dahil lahat tayo ay tatanda rin," Poe added.

The bill proposes the creation of an inter-agency task force to implement the Elder Victim Assistance Program that would provide the following services:

-Immediate, short-term emergency services, including shelter, care services, food, clothing, transportation to medical or legal appointment as appropriate, and any other life services deemed necessary by the entity for victims of elder abuse; -Counseling and assistance for victims of elder abuse in accessing healthcare, educational, pension, or other benefits for which seniors may be eligible under law; -Mental health screenings for victims of elder abuse to identify and seek assistance for potential mental health disorders such as depression or substance abuse; -Emergency legal advocacy for victims of elder abuse and, as appropriate, their families; -Job placement assistance and information on employment, training, or volunteer opportunities for victims of elder abuse; -Bereavement counseling for families of victims of elder abuse; -Education of the elderly to enable them to avoid being victimized, abused, or exploited; and -Other services considered appropriate for purposes of the program.

The task force shall be chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and will have relevant government bodies as members.

Its budget for operations will be sourced from the annual appropriations of the DSWD.

According to Poe, while the traditional high regard for older persons remains characteristic of Filipino families, they have become vulnerable to neglect as the pressures of economic survival mount.

In 1970, for every one elderly, there were about 11 working people from whom support could be drawn. Yet by 2020, studies indicate that there will only be six people of productive age to support the elderly.

Poe also noted the alarming development of incidence of elder abuse.

"As elders become frailer, they are less able to stand up to bullying or to fight back if attacked. They may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them," she said in the bill's explanatory note.

"We hope this measure will make ending elder abuse a life-long commitment and will help communities strive to always safeguard and protect our elders," Poe said.

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