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BONTOC, Mountain Province – Twenty-five senior citizens took the reign of running the Bontoc municipal government on October 4, 2021, in celebration of the Elderly Week every October 1-7 of every year.
Viola Okko took over the seat of Municipal Mayor Franklin Odsey; Mary Bacwaden replaced Vice Mayor Eusebio Kabluyen for a day; and the senior citizens who took over the seats of the Sangguniang Bayan members are James Kis-ing, Henry Engngeg, Martha Ofo-ob, Luisa Fesway, Erminda Nawen, Mary Falangon, Yolanda Chelnag, Edna Pit-og, Jane Awichen, Perlas Mayion, and Fidela Coma-ad.
Other senior citizens who took over the seats of the department heads for a day are Sangguniang Bayan Secretary Josephine Villanueva ; Municipal Agriculturist Emilia Chumacog; Municipal Planning Development Officer Edna Awangan, Municipal Assessor Jane Cachatar, Municipal Health Officer Prisca Belino, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer Norma Anecang, Municipal Engineer Marilyn Madchawing, Municipal Treasurer Joyce Mariano, Municipal Local Civil Registrar Evelyn Joyce Taguiba; Municipal Accountant Ruby Mangagley; Municipal Budget Officer Rosita Sagandoy; and Municipal Legal Officer, Atty. Florence Taguiba. As Senior Citizen Official for a Day (SCOFAD), they received the one day salary of the official whom they took over.
Mayor Franklin Odsey who welcomed all the senior citizens who were assigned to the different offices for the day acknowledged the value and contribution of the senior citizen in nation building which starts at home and the community.
He added that the celebration of the Senior Citizens Week is also a means of giving back to the elderly.
Under the Senior Citizens Code of Bontoc, 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. Likewise, the mayor assured the continuous support of the municipal government to all undertakings of the senior citizens by implementing what has been stipulated in the Senior Citizens Code of Bontoc.
Among the notable support to be provided by the municipal government 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. Said funds shall be used for the programs and activities of the senior citizens.
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. The death benefit assistance shall be subject to an adjustment or increase of 10 percent every after three years, but shall not exceed to P5, 000.
However, it is required that the deceased senior citizen must have been a resident of Bontoc and that the wake and burial must have been done within the municipality. Further, the code adheres to the grant of 20 percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax, if applicable, on the sale of goods and services in all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of senior citizens.
It can 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.
The Senior Citizens Code was sponsored by 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 in 2019. Mayor Odsey approved the ordinance recognizing that it is the government’s mandate to protect and promote the welfare of the senior citizens.
Republic Act 10868, which was crafted to honor senior citizens, also declared the first week of October as the Elderly Filipino Week.
The theme for this year’s Elderly Week Celebration is “Mahalaga si Lolo at Lola Ngayong Panahon ng Pandemya.” By Alpine L. Killa