Angara bill imposes stiffer penalties vs senior citizen abuse
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Friday sought for the passage of a bill that he said will put an end to any form of senior citizen abuse by providing stiffer penalties and strengthening institutional support for elderly victims of abuse.
“Respect for our elders has been one of the hallmarks of Philippine culture and society. Sadly, incidents of senior citizen abuse still persist in our country,” Angara said in a statement.
The senator filed Senate Bill 1012 or the Anti-Senior Citizen Abuse Act of 2016 which defines senior citizen abuse as a “single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to a senior citizen.”
Such abuse, the bill said, include the following:
1) Physical abuse – striking, hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, slapping, kicking, pinching, and burning, inappropriate use of drugs and physical restraints, force-feeding, and physical punishment;
2) Sexual abuse – rape, acts of lasciviousness, sodomy, coerced nudity, and sexually explicit photographing, and unwanted touching;
3) Psychological abuse – verbal assaults, insults, threats, intimidation, public ridicule, humiliation, mockery and vilification, harassment, and enforced social isolation;
4) Economic abuse – withdrawal of financial support, controlling or misusing a senior citizen’s own money or properties, cashing a senior citizen’s checks without authorization or permission, forging a senior citizen’s signature, coercing or deceiving a senior citizen into signing any document, and the improper use of conservatorship, guardianship, or power of attorney;
5) Neglect – failure of the responsible to feed, provide shelter to health care, or protection to the senior citizen.
The bill proposes prision mayor or six to 12 years imprisonment for physical abuse, resulting in serious physical injuries; sexual abuse, except rape; and, psychological abuse.
Economic abuse, on the other hand, will be punished by prision correccional or six months to six years imprisonment, while neglect will be penalized by arresto mayor or one month to six months imprisonment.
“It is our duty to provide proper and adequate protection for our over six million senior citizens. It must be stressed that senior citizen abuse is not a private matter but a public and serious one which should be a concern of the entire society,” said Angara, also one of the authors of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.
The senator noted a recent news report, citing a study by the University of the Philippines which showed that children of the elders ranked highest in number in terms of perpetrating the abuse, followed by spouses and then grandchildren. The report also noted that most elders were being abused by their children while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Angara said his bill thus mandates the establishment of a senior citizens help desk to provide immediate assistance to the victims of senior citizen abuse.
“Our measure also aims to provide institutional support to victims of senior citizen abuse with the hope that a more participative involvement of the society will afford our senior citizens more protection,” he said.
Such support for the victims, the senator said, includes temporary shelters, counselling, psychosocial services and recovery, rehabilitation programs, and livelihood assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the local government units.
“It is an honor to take care of the elderly. They bore their lives with dignity and endurance, and allowed us to be connected to our past. Malaking karangalan para sa atin na arugain ang mga nakatatanda tulad ng ating pagaalaga sa mga bata (It is a huge honor for us to take care of our elderly like looking after the children),” Angara added. RAM/rga
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