Ex-CHR chair urges gov’t to hike pension of seniors due to COVID-19 threat
MANILA, Philippines – A former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson has asked the government to give senior citizens a higher pension for they appear to be the most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Akbayan leader Etta Rosales said in a statement on Wednesday that the current social pension given to the elderly — P500 per month — would not suffice given the outbreak and the enhanced community quarantine.
“P16 a day for a month! Our senior citizens are dying in this battle with no support to prepare for the pandemic. Nine senior citizens have died due to COVID-19 from the 14 reported deaths as of Tuesday,” she explained.
According to Rosales, seniors would also feel the effect of the community quarantine, as workers especially those who rely on daily wages also support their elderly.
“If our workers are laid off or forced to stop working and will receive no wages, where will our senior citizens get their money for food and medicine? These senior citizens rely on their working family member to give them support,” she asked.
“Don’t leave the senior citizens behind. They are retired and rely on pension. They have worked years on end supporting our economy, we need to support them too. Our community is only strong against sickness if our senior citizens are strong too,” she added.
Last Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire Luzon area under an enhanced community quarantine, restricting movement of workers except for frontline personnel like health workers, pharmacists, and skeleton service crews.
This is due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. As of Wednesday noon, the Department of Health (DOH) said that there are 202 confirmed COVID-19 patients in the Philippines, 17 of which have died, and seven have recovered.
Majority of the incidents came from the elderly, meaning either those who are nearing their senior age or actual senior citizens.
What the government should do, Rosales said, is to increase the grants for workers affected by the lockdown by up to P10,000, to ensure that senior citizens would be shielded from the sickness.
“The government should increase the cash aid to P10,000 for the employed and informal workers affected by the lockdown and ensure that 4Ps payout continues for the month,” Rosales noted.
“Barangays should help provide their health care and other needs. We can’t abandon our senior citizens with just scraps of the budget,” she added.
Edited by JPV
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