BONTOC, Mountain Province – This municipality can now fully implement the Senior Citizens Code passed by the Sangguniang Bayan of Bontoc after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan gave its green light.
Among the notable support to be provided by the local government Unit to the senior citizens is the increase of yearly cash assistance of P10, 000 to each of the 16 barangays of Bontoc from the P8, 000 given in the previous years, and P20, 000 to the Municipal Federation of Senior Citizens Association for the programs and activities of the senior citizens.
An Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) shall also be established to be headed by a senior citizen appointed by the mayor for a term of three years without reappointment but without prejudice to an extension not exceeding three months, if exigency requires. The OSCA head shall be chosen from a list of three nominees recommended by a general assembly of the senior citizens, or in the event of failure to do so, the nomination shall be done by the Municipal Federation of Senior Citizens which shall convene and select three nominees to be submitted to the chief executive for the needed action. The OSCA head shall be entitled to an honorarium of P4, 000 per month and the office shall be allotted a yearly appropriation of P15, 000 for travelling expense purposes.
Part of the code is the establishment of a Senior Citizens Incentive and Awards Program aimed at recognizing the best performing barangay senior citizen association with a plaque or certificate and a cash incentive of P10, 000 to be awarded to the 1st place winner, P7, 000 for the 2nd placer and P5, 000 for the 3rd placer.
Aside from this, a death benefit assistance of P2, 000 shall be given to the nearest surviving relative who took care of the deceased senior citizen. However, it is required that the deceased senior citizen must be a resident of Bontoc, and that the wake and burial must have been done within the municipality.
It was also stipulated in the code that every first Monday of October of every year is designated as “Senior Citizens Day” which shall be celebrated appropriately in consultation and coordination with the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, OSA, and the Municipal Federation of Senior Citizens. All selected senior citizens shall act as Senior Citizens Officer for a Day (SCOFAD) in all elective (including ex-officio) and appointive (heads of offices including the Sangguniang Bayan Secretary) positions ; with a salary grade of at least 24. Thus, the SCOFAD- Mayor shall be entitled to an incentive of P2, 000, Vice Mayor – P1, 750.00, Sangguniang Bayan member – P1, 500 and Department Head – P1, 500.
Further, the code adheres to the grant of 20% discount and exemption from the value- added tax, if applicable, on the sale of goods and services from all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of senior citizens.
It will be recalled that during the celebration of the Elderly Week on October 1, 2018, senior citizens who took over the seats of the capital town’s Sangguniang Bayan for a day proposed two ordinances and three resolutions catering to the welfare of the elderly sector. Atty. Florence Taguiba took over the seat of Vice Mayor Eusebio Kabluyen for a day and was joined by senior citizens Leoncio Lumbag, Frumentio Pala-os, Jose Fang-asan, Betty Jane Dizon, Eufemia Chakas, Cyril Bacala, Sr., Norbertina Ramirez, Mary Sacgaca, Lilian Focasan, Caroline Castaneda and Linda Tangilag who took the place of the Sangguniang Bayan members.
In response to this, the Sangguniang Bayan came up with the Senior Citizens Code to encapsulate the ordinances and resolutions proposed and submitted by the SCOFAD.
Sponsored by Sangguniang Bayan member Viola Okko who chairs the Committee on Women, Children, Family, Social Services and Civil Organization, and co-sponsored by SB member Alsannyster Patingan who chairs the Committee on Laws, the council supported the passage of the code because they believed that it is the government’s mandate to protect and promote the welfare of the senior citizens.
A senior citizen himself, Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey voiced his full support to the ordinance passed by the council adding that it is also a means of giving back to the elderly.
Odsey remarked that the passage of the Senior Citizens Code is a result of a collaborative effort and successive meetings of the Sangguniang Bayan with the Municipal Federation of Senior Citizens and other concerned senior citizens. This is with the full support of the chief executive.
The Sangguniang Bayan highlighted that the code recognizes the rights of the senior citizens to take their proper place in society and make it a concern of the family, community and the government; gives full support to the improvement of the total well- being of the elderly and their full participation in society considering that senior citizens are integral part of the Philippine society; motivates and encourages the senior citizens to contribute to nation building; encourages their families and the communities they live with to reaffirm the valued Filipino tradition of caring for the senior citizens; and recognizes the important role of the private sector in the improvement of the welfare of senior citizens and to actively seek their partnership.
By Alpine L. Killa