MANILA – As part of efforts to address the evolving needs and challenges faced by the elderly population, the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) on Monday launched its five-year Philippine Plan of Action for Senior Citizens (PPASC 2023-2028).
The launch of PPASC after the flag raising ceremony at the Mabini Social Hall in Malacañang, Manila coincided with the annual celebration of Elderly Filipino Week, in collaboration with national government agencies and other partners.
The action plan aims to create an inclusive and age-friendly society that safeguards the rights and privileges, as well as the health and well-being, of senior citizens nationwide.
It is a blueprint to realize the NCSC’s vision to make senior citizens happy, healthy, empowered and productive while living in a safe place that is free from abuse and exploitation, with their rights protected, free from poverty and ability to contribute to the development of their communities.
"We're actually encouraging the government to make use of the skills and abilities of seniors. Being retired at 60 is too restrictive. So, I think this is a whole-of-government invitation to talk about how we can utilize everyone's skill sets in a manner that will benefit the whole country," NCSC Chairperson Franklin Quijano said in his message.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority's 2020 survey, the country has 9.22 million senior citizens.
NCSC Commissioner Reymar Mansilungan urged lawmakers to amend Republic Act 8291 (Government Security Insurance System or GSIS Act) to include a provision that would allow retirees to continue their membership in state-run pension agencies such as the Social Security System (SSS) and GSIS.
"There are legislators proposing to remove the retirement age because some individuals at 65 are still capable, and their wisdom is invaluable. However, they lose their benefits. Why? Our SSS law specifies membership only up to age 60," Mansilungan said.
"The implication is, there is a provision in the GSIS law that requires 15 years of contributions to qualify for a pension. So, if you reach 65 years old and your employment is 14 years and 11 months, GSIS won't accept your last contribution. What we need is to amend the GSIS law," he added.
Commitment to elevate welfare of elderly
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Irene Dumlao said the launch of the plan “further emphasized the government's commitment to elevate the status and welfare of senior citizens in the country."
“The lead social protection agency fully supports this initiative, which is a very significant milestone in pursuit of protecting and promoting the wellbeing of the senior citizens,” said Dumlao who represented DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian. (With a report from Zaldy De Layola/PNA)