Senate approves bill creating National Commission of Senior Citizens

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate approved on Tuesday, January 29, a bill seeking to create the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC).

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2159, sponsored by Senator Leila de Lima, aims to create a national body that will be solely responsible for handling issues concerning senior citizens. It was unanimously approved with 12 votes.

"Growing old comes with a variety of challenges, from physical to economic…. It is important that we create for senior citizens a supportive and an enabling environment where they are assisted and appreciated," Trillanes said in his sponsorship speech. 

Trillanes delivered the sponsorship speech because De Lima, who chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, is in detention for alleged illegal drug charges.

According to the Population Commission, senior citizens accounted for 8% or 8.103 million people of the country's population as of 2018.

The United Nations Population Fund also projected the senior population in the Philippines to rise to some 23.63 million individuals by 2050. (READ: Without pension, senior citizens forced to continue working)

What the bill wants: Under the bill, a central body would be created to ensure the full implementation of laws and programs concerning senior citizens. It would also have the power to formulate policies promoting and protecting the rights of the elderly.

The NCSC would be placed under the Office of the President, while the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board would be abolished. The new body would be composed of a chairperson and 6 commissioners.

Commissioners would be able to hold office in different regions while an executive director – to be appointed by the NCSC – would manage the body's daily operations.

The bill also mandates that the NCSC carry out information campaigns to raise awareness of senior citizens' rights. It also provides representation for the Philippines in international forums focusing on the elderly.

Aside from these, the creation of the NCSC would also reaffirm the country's commitment to the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Ageing: Empowering Older Persons in ASEAN, which focuses on efforts to promote rights of senior citizens. It was adopted by the Philippines on November 21, 2015.

SB No. 2159 is a consolidated version of similar bills filed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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