Published 7 October 2019, The Daily Tribune

They say that the moral fabric of society is measured by how it treats the weak and marginalized sectors. Governments and administrations, due to their temporary nature, are judged post-term by the legislation they have passed that catered to the often neglected segments of society. To quote a former Philippine president, “those who have less in life, should have more in law”. This is the quintessence of social justice as any law disciple  would give testament to.

Republic Act No. 11350 or the National Commission of Senior Citizens Act has as its policy to adopt measures where our senior citizens are assisted and appreciated by the community as a whole, provide services and activities beneficial to senior citizens, their families and the communities they serve, and establish community-based health and rehabilitation, educational, and socioeconomic programs for all senior citizens. It is through this law that the National Commission of Senior Citizens is established.

The National Commission of Senior Citizens will be under the Office of the President. The Commission shall be composed of a Chairperson and six Commissioners having a term of office of six years, all to be appointed by the President. At least two Commissioners must be women.

To be a member of this Commission, several qualifications have to be met: citizens and residents of the Philippines; at least sixty years old at the time of their appointment; of good moral character; bona fide members of senior citizens associations; holders of a college degree or have relevant experience in the affairs of senior citizens; of good health and sound mind; have not been convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude; and recommended by a general assembly of senior citizen organizations.

The function of the National Commission of Senior Citizens can be summarized as follows:

(a) Ensure the full implementation of laws, policies, and programs of the government pertaining to senior citizens; review and conduct studies on the same; and recommend appropriate actions thereon to Congress and the President;

(b) Formulate policies for the promotion and protection of the rights and well-being of senior citizens;

(c) Conduct information, education, and communication campaigns to raise awareness on the rights of senior citizens;

(d) Establish and maintain cooperation and consultation with local government units and national government agencies on all matters pertaining to the general welfare of senior citizens;

(e) Represent the Philippines in international functions, fora, or conferences on senior citizens and establish and maintain linkages with the international senior citizen or senior citizen-serving institutions or organizations and counterpart government agencies of other states;

(f) Constitute and convene when necessary, an advisory body to be composed of such representatives from the government, nongovernment organizations, civil society, and the private sector, as the Commission may deem appropriate, to assist in the performance of its functions; CAIHTE

(g) Develop appropriate mechanisms and procedures for the selection and nomination of the members of the Commission for appointment by the President; and

(h) Perform such other actions and functions for the promotion of the welfare of senior citizens, as may be directed by the President.

The National Commission of Senior Citizens inherited the functions of the Department of Social Welfare and Development insofar as the formulation, implementation, and coordination of social welfare and development policies for the disadvantaged senior citizens are concerned.

The National Commission of Senior Citizens Act may be perceived as a dry and barren law, lacking several details, leaving the question how the Commission will actually accomplish its statutory ends. A quick scan of the law gives the reader an impression that the only significant provisions embedded are the ones that mandatorily created the Commission and listed its functions. Aside from those two, everything is really just branching of the same tree.

The Commission is yet to determine the nature, kind and extent of benefits that it  will give to senior citizens. There is still no list of allowances, dole-outs, stipends or benefits of any kind. However, senior citizens should at the very least be excited that the government has established a separate government agency to cater to their peculiar needs and concerns.

Our country prides itself in keeping our family intact, in helping our family through thick and thin whatever the circumstances. For our beloved senior citizens, time is a precious commodity. In demonstrating our love, affection and care for them, time is always of the essence.

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