Lawyer asks DILG: Should senior citizens register as voters to get benefits from LGUs?
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer has asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to clarify if senior citizens should register as voters in their locality in order to receive their benefits from the local government unit.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said in a statement on Tuesday that he had written DILG chief Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Dec. 12, 2022, to raise how some LGUs require senior citizens to be registered voters within their jurisdiction for them to be able to claim the benefits provided by the LGUs to senior citizens.
This, Macalintal noted, strips non-registered senior citizens of their benefits as he said their inability to register as a voter are often “due to old age or physical disability.”
He then added that such a prerequisite is “unconstitutional, because it is tantamount to compelling these senior citizens to register as voters or making voter registration as mandatory when the law and the constitution provide that registration as voter is merely voluntary.”
“The laws on senior citizens’ benefits do not require them to be a registered voter before they could receive benefits from the national and/or local governments. These laws merely require a person to be at least 60 years of age, a Filipino citizen and a resident of the Philippines to receive such benefits,” Malacintal explained.
According to him, DILG Undersecretary Juan Victor Llamas responded to his letter on Feb. 6, saying that the concern has since been referred to the department’s Bureau of Local Government Supervision “for crafting / issuance of a necessary directive for this purpose.”
“We look forward to the immediate issuance of the said DILG directive,” Macalintal said. “The action of the DILG is indeed a very welcome development and for sure, senior citizens affected by the said requirement imposed by some LGUs will certainly be assured of the benefits lawfully due them and not be deprived thereof by a rule that is not provided for by law or might even violate a person’s constitutional right of suffrage.”
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