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Phl senator defends the poor, the elderly
And one that does so is great, for that is how a society is measured - not by the strength of its economy, nor the might of its army.”
This poetic and dramatic statement slipped from the lips of Philippine Senator Ralph Recto when he delivered his sponsorship speech Wednesday, defending the shadows of life, the poor and the sick; and those in the sunset of life, the elderly.
“Legislatures are also weighed by this standard, and those who have made life kinder for these people have in turn been judged kindly by history,” Recto also said, adding that the same yardstick is applied to Filipino families as well.
He said this filial devotion is a gene in the DNA of Filipino race so there’s no need to send them to nursing homes to be attended to by strangers.
“We turn our very homes into places where we nurse our parents ourselves. As a result, a great number of our households today double as homes for the aged,” Rector stressed.
He said that even if the elderly parent has the means to employ a coterie of caregivers, the company of kin and kith is something that money cannot buy. The same compassion to elders must drive government as well.
“Sadly, there is a huge national deficit when it comes to how we treat those who have given their best to give us better lives,” the senator lamented.
He said that although this shortfall never appears in our book of accounts, they are, however, evident everywhere.
Recto said the government has a public health system straining to meet the rising demand for geriatric care, a pension system which managed to enroll only a fraction of those who should by now, be getting the fruits of their contributions.
“Many of our elderly fall between the cracks without the safety net of a gentle society catching their fall,” he said, adding that the government's credit is narrowing the deficit and closing the cracks.
“There's a program which grants a P500 monthly pension to indigent seniors, courtesy of a landmark law, RA 9994, shepherded by triathlete Senator Pia (Cayetano) - who believes that the best form of cardiac exercise is to extend a helping hand to lift up the down and out. Under this law, the discount for seniors has been expanded by crossing out sales tax on a wide range of goods and services - from the drugs they stock in their mini-pharmacies at home, to Justin Beiber concert tickets, to airline tickets, and even hotel rooms for a second honeymoon,” Recto said.
He further said that if one reaches 60, he or she does not need to present a card from PhilHealth to avail of its benefits.
The senator was touched after the government’s Philhealth jacked up the premium for government-sponsored beneficiaries from P1,800 to P2,400.