Senate OKs bill granting incentives to centenarians
The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to grant centenarians P100,000 in cash and a letter of felicitation from the president.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines centenarian as “one that is a hundred years old or older.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon said Senate Bill No. 449 or the Centenarians Act of 2013 is the Senate’s “way of recognizing the country’s centenarians, who have reached the milestone age of one hundred years old, often through clean and responsible living.”
“They are good examples for our people, and help encourage a healthier lifestyle among our citizenry,” Drilon said in a statement after the bill was approved in the Senate Monday.
Senator Nancy Binay, sponsor of the bill and chairperson of the committee on social justice, welfare and rural development, said the proposed measure also seeks to declare every September 25 as “National Respect for Centenarians Day.”
“We have a culture of taking care and providing for our elders. It is somewhat a voluntary obligation imposed on oneself. Let us keep this unique Filipino trait of taking care of our elderly by honoring our centenarians,” Binay said in her sponsorship speech.
The lady senator then cited a World Health Organization data which showed that Filipino life expectancy for both male and female is 65 and 72 years, respectively. Records from the National Statistical Coordination Board Fact Sheet, on the other hand, pegged Filipino life expectancy at 67.6 years for the male and 73.1 years for the female.
The Department of Social Welfare and Developments, she said, recorded 3,533 centenarians as of 2015.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, co-sponsor of the bill, explained that once the measure was passed into law, the city or town where the centenarians live must give him or her a plaque of recognition on his or her 100th birthday.
Recto said centenarians are so few that the bill would not burn a hole in the taxpayer’s pocket as the centenarians represent only a small percentage of the population.
Also on Monday, the Senate approved on final reading a bill mandating all TV networks to use closed caption options on television programs so people with hearing impairments could enjoy a full variety of television programs.
Closed caption was defined under Senate Bill No. 2239 as a method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical data signal that are decoded at the receiver and super imposed at the bottom of the television screen.
Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the committee on public information and mass media, said that closed captioning would permit the hearing-impaired to “engage and be part of popular culture.”
Under the bill, franchise holders or operators of TV stations and producers of TV programs will be required to use closed caption options in their programs.
The proposed measure was authored by Poe and Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Loren Legarda.
Once the bill is passed into law, Poe said the Philippines would join the rest of its Southeast Asian neighbors like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in providing a closed-captioning system to help the deaf and the hearing-impaired community.
Senator Bam Aquino, co-sponsor of the bill, said closed captioning would enable people with hearing impairments to engage in public affairs.
Closed captioning he said, would keep Filipinos with hearing disability updated with current events, similar to TV5 which has a sign language inserted in its newscast.
“We need to support measures that would provide the hearing-impaired with proper support and care and help them integrate into society by assisting them to find jobs and become productive members of the society,” Aquino said.
The two measures have to get the approval of the Senate and the House of Representatives before they are transmitted to the President for signature. The present Congress will adjourn sine die next month. IDL/rga
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