By Beatriz Pereña | Published: December 3, 2018
Senior citizens of Bacoor and Imus have reasons to have a merry, if not merrier, Christmas 2018.
The elderly from Bacoor City, called Cavite’s Gateway to and from southern Metro Manila, and Imus, the current capital city, have the local government units to thank for after the LGUs have initiated programs for the elders and implemented by the Provincial Welfare and Development Office.
These are in addition to the 20 percent discounts , utility discounts and exemptions the elderly – those who have reached 60 years, in a country where life expectancy is pegged at 73.5 years – enjoy under an existing law.
Under the law, senior citizens are entitled to:
- 20 percent discount on:
- Medical-related privileges
- Medicine and drug purchases
- Medical supplies, accessories and equipment
- Medical and dental services
- Professional fees of attending physician
- Professional fees of licensed health workers providing home health care services
- Air and Sea
- Land: LRT, MRT, PNR, buses, jeepneys, taxi and shuttle services
- Hotels, restaurants, recreational facilities, places of leisure
- Hotels, restaurants, theaters, cinemas, concert halls, circuses, leisure and amusement
- Recreation centers
- Fees, charges and rental for sports facilities and equipment
- Funeral services
- Funeral and burial expenses include casket or urn, embalming, cremation cost, and other services.
- Utility discount
- Grant of a minimum of 5 percent discount relative to the monthly use of water and electricity, provided that the meter is registered under the name of the senior citizen residing therein and does not exceed 100 kWh and 30 m³.
- Medical-related privileges
- Tax exemption
- Exemption from payment of individual income tax of those who are considered to be minimum wage earners
- Training fee exemption
- Training fees for socio-economic programs conducted by private and government agencies subject to the guidelines issued by DTI, DOLE, DA, TESDA and DOST-TRC.
- Free medical and dental services
- Free vaccinations
- Social Pension
- Indigent senior citizens shall be entitled to a monthly stipend amounting to P500 to augment daily subsistence and other medical needs.
- Mandatory PhilHealth coverage
- All senior citizens are covered by the national health insurance program of PhilHealth.
- Social safety nets
- The social safety assistance shall include, but not be limited to, food, medicines, and financial assistance for house repair to cushion effects of economic, disaster and calamity shocks.
- Death benefit assistance
- Assistance of a minimum of P2,000 shall be given to the nearest surviving relative who took care of the deceased senior citizen.
- Express lanes
- Express lanes shall be provided in all private, banking, commercial and government establishments; priority shall be given in their absence.
- Educational privileges
- Assistance shall be granted to senior citizens to pursue education through provision of scholarships, grants, financial aids, subsidies and other incentives.
- Benefits and privileges for retirees
- Continuance of the same benefits and privileges by GSIS, SSS and PAG-IBIG as enjoyed by those in active service.
- Privileges on special discounts in special programs
Aside from these benefits, the local government units of these two cities – Imus City, led by Mayor Emmanuel Maliksi, and Bacoor City, led by Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla – have ensured the elderly would get additional perks this Christmas.
Travel observers from Cavite to Manila and back have been hobbled by heavy vehicular traffic along Aguinaldo Highway and other major thoroughfares apart from experiencing nastily overcrowded public transport.
These appear hard for seniors who had to wait for hours just to get a ride to their destinations especially during rush hour.
At the same time, traffic is expected to get a lot heavier in the coming weeks as Caviteños and tourists from the Philippines and abroad are bound to tap tourist destinations in the province.
The new free rides offered by the Imus local government, which started last November 19, have provided relief for the city’s seniors.
Initially started as a free shuttle for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and students from Imus to Baclaran, the “Gender and Development Bus Libreng Sakay” project has been expanded to Lawton, Manila.
The free rides – the first of its kind in Cavite province – will run up to December 31.
City Mayor Emmanuel Leonard Maliksi and Vice Mayor Arnel M. Cantimbuhan thought of the weekday bus ride scheme to help ease the commuters’ burden as from sunrise.
Six buses chartered from San Agustin Transport ferry Imus residents to Lawton every 20 minutes from 5:20 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. on weekdays.
Buses pick up residents on Point-to-Point (P2P) areas: Anabu Kostal, Anabu Doyets, Patindig Araw and Toll Bridge.
The project is seen as a boost especially for seniors who wish to spend their time with family and friends this holiday season.
The idea of free movie tickets for senior citizens is nothing new – in fact, since the millennium rollover, majority of cities in the National Capital Region have given this extra privilege to their elderly as a way for them to enjoy their free time.
However, in Cavite, Bacoor City stands out as the sole LGU giving out this privilege to its senior citizens.
Started in 2014 by then Mayor Strike Revilla, the city’s “Libre Sine” program entitles Bacoor’s elderly to free movie tickets every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at the city’s shopping malls.
Last year, Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla inaugurated a new multi-purpose building for the city’s senior citizens at the Bacoor Government Center in Barangay Bayanan.
The two-story building has six offices that will attend to various services for the city’s OSCA and PWD groups’ 66,000 members.
Early Christmas Gifts
Meanwhile, senior citizens from three institutions in Cavite received their early Christmas gifts as the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office conducted the “Kalinga sa Nakatatanda” project on November 22 and 23.
Daily basic personal needs were given to 19 elderly women from Mama’s Hope Haven in General Trias Cty, 14 from Halfway Home in Imus City, and 11 from Bahay San Jose in Alfonso.
The in-house elderly received Christmas package that included adult diapers, personal hygiene kits, slippers, pajamas for male and duster for female and other food items.
Meanwhile, Social Workers Zwirtly Mae Martinez of Mama’s Hope Haven, Ms. Josephine Villanueva of Halfway Home and Ms. Lourdes Brual, coordinator of Bahay San Jose, thanked the governor and thgose behind the project.
Spearheading the way
These programs are just three of the many programs instituted by LGUs in Cavite to make life easier for the elderly, local government analysts said.
This trend closely follows the spirit of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (Republic Act No. 9994) which mandates that local government units coordinate with national agencies such as the Department of Health and Department of Social Welfare and Development to create social-welfare and health services for senior citizens.
“The DSWD, in cooperation with the OSCA and the local government units, non-governmental organizations and people” organizations for senior citizens, shall develop and implement programs and social services for senior citizens. Local government units shall ensure that the developed programs and social services are provided,” Article 16 of R.A. 9994 states.