A bill that seeks to provide special protection for senior citizens through the prevention and deterrence of acts to ensure their safety and security has been filed in the House of Representatives.
Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 5732, or the “Protection for the Elderly Act,” which aims to strengthen the role of concerned national and local government agencies in fighting abuses and other forms of exploitation against the elderly.
“From a young age, our culture has taught us to honor and respect our elders. Filipino values dictate that we have a strong moral duty to maintain and care for our senior citizens,” Gatchalian explained.
“But we cannot deny the fact that a number of our elderly over the years have become victims of physical, emotional, and economic abuse at the hands of people who are entrusted with their care,” he added.
In a study by the University of the Philippines-National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP-NCPAG), it was noted that some children of the elders rank highest in number in terms of perpetrating the abuse, followed by spouses and then grandchildren.
“Cases of elderly abuse are clearly happening and yet only a few are being publicized and voiced out since they are afraid to come out or just hide in silence because the perpetrators itself are within their family circle,” Gatchalian pointed out.
If Gatchalian’s bill becomes a law, individuals who committed acts of abuse, neglect or exploitation shall be punished under the Revised Penal Code. These acts include:
- Threatening or inflicting any physical harm on an elderly, including any sexual act;
- Restraining a senior citizen with the intention of permanently restricting the elderly’s movements and interaction with other members of the community;
- Causing mental or emotional distress on senior citizens; and
- Preventing an elder from engaging in any legitimate profession or business in the absence of any harm.
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“HB 5732 will also penalize those who are legally responsible or has an obligation to care for an elderly but willfully neglects to provide food, medicines, shelter or services necessary for the senior citizen’s well-being,” Gatchalian said.
Local trial courts and barangays shall issue protective order in case there are instances of elderly abuse. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies, on other hand, shall act to arrest suspected perpetrators.
Abused senior citizens will be placed under the custody Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to give them shelter, counseling, psycho-social services and rehabilitation programs.
Meanwhile, Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DoH) and other local government units (LGUs) will be tasked to conduct information and dissemination campaign on the rights of elders and the duties of the family to take care of them.
A maximum fine of P10,000 and liability charges shall be imposed on any barangay official, government employee, law enforcer or healthcare provider who fails to render the assistance required for abused and exploited senior citizens. (Tim Alcantara)