BAGUIO CITY – Establishment of homes for the aged, mobile geriatric health care units and additional senior citizen-friendly facilities and the rationalization of the one percent share of the senior citizens from the local government unit’s budget.
These were the main suggestions broached by the more than 200 senior citizens who participated in the Elderly Summit conducted last week by the city council.
The participants were asked to identify problems being experienced by their sector as well as proposed solutions to the same during the legislative proposal formulation aspect of the summit.
Most of the outputs dealt with the mandatory one percent share of the senior citizens and the persons with disabilities from the city’s budget as provided in the Dept. of Budget Management and Dept. of Social Welfare and Development Joint Circular 2003-01 “Setting Aside One Percent of the Government Agency Budget for Programs and Projects Related to Senior Citizens and the Disabled” in line with Republic Act No. 7432 “An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation-Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges…”
The participants said the share should be proportionately distributed to the different accredited senior citizen organizations and that this should be covered by a city council measure.
Some said the share of the senior citizens should be separated from that of the PWDs while others proposed that the unused fund should be allowed into a trust fund instead of being reverted to the general fund.
At present, the city government is incorporating the share into the programs and activities for senior citizens and PWDs of the servicing offices like the city health services office through free vaccines, medicines and health services, the city social welfare and development office through various welfare activities and the barangays.
OCSWAD officer Betty Fangasan said this is so to ensure that the share will redound to the benefit of all the elderlies.
Based on the output, the senior citizens are clamoring for more benefits aside from the said share with one group suggesting that they received allocations from the city councilors, the barangays and more assistance from professionals in the city.
They also want the establishment of homes for the aged, mobile health service mobile units or transitory care with doctors, nurses, therapists and ambulance units to visit sick elderly at home, separate health assistance for the seriously ill and more maintenance medicines in government clinics.
Other proposed a center for the elderly for them to conduct their activities and socialization.
On traffic and transport concerns, the elderlies suggested that all jeepneys provide additional step board and provide priority seats for them.
They also sought taxi lanes and discount in taxi fares, strict implementation of blue or pedestrian lane for senior and waiting sheds for them.
They also suggested the following:
Strict observance of priority lanes and discounts at groceries; free movies should be made twice a week and address the long queues, conduct of Bible studies, group exercise sessions and trade fairs;
Grant of birthday cash gift (they also suggested that gifts should not only be given to those 70-years old and above but also to those who reached the age 60;
Social pension should be available to all and not only to the less privileged while honorarium and allowances should also be given; provision of an office or desk to act on problems of senior citizens; extension of the Senior Citizens for-a-Day to a week and more opportunities for them to participate in barangay activities.
They also asked the city government to provide garbage containers, light up dark streets and alleys, provide CCTVs and ban unleashed dogs.
The output has been collated by the committee on social services under Councilor Lilia Farinas as basis for legislative actions.
Themed “Healthy Mind and Body for Healthy Ageing,” the summit also featured lectures on topics including “Mental well-being, brain health and mind-body connections supporting healthy ageing” by Dr. Dandeo Halog of the Health Services Office and “Bridging the gap of academics, decision makers and community to learn about and discuss topics relevant to senior citizens’ health and social service professionals, policy makers, government officials and innovators in the field of mental health and well-being” by Dr. Amparo Rimas of the Baguio-Benguet Community Credit Cooperative.
It is part of the city’s Elderly Month Celebration. /Aileen P. Refuerzo