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Congress should act on pending bills that benefit seniors, retirees

/ 05:10 AM April 12, 2018

I am a retiree and I fully agree with Cielito F. Habito’s views in his March 27 column, “Should mandatory retirement end?”

I concur with his idea of allowing the elderly to choose to continue working should they have the “physical health and mental capacity to do so.”

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Employers, whether government or private, can capitalize on the seniors’ knowledge and experience. Retirees, on the other hand, should not waste their time and talent.

I also subscribe to the rule of retiring employees or workers at a younger age if the work they engage in affects their physical health to the detriment of their general wellbeing.

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But I believe employees may be allowed to  work even beyond the compulsory retirement age of 65, if their work involves more of  mental  than physical exertion. I think this is the basis for justices and judges whose compulsory retirement age is 70.

I was retired at 65 from the House of Representatives, where I was secretary of the committee on health. Even before Habito wrote that column, I shunned inactivity.

In my last years in the House, I wrote a book, “How Bills Become Philippine Laws,” published by Anvil Publishing Inc. in 2012. We conducted a seminar on effective legislative advocacy, based on the book, which led me to being hired as legal counsel of the Philippine Hospital Association in 2014. Even if retired, retirees should never retire from mental activities, from meeting people and taking up advocacies.

As an advocate for the welfare of seniors and retirees, I would like to add to Habito’s column that retirement matters be further studied and deliberated upon by Congress, to amend certain laws to equalize benefits and discourage discrimination.

Retirees under Republic Act No. 7699, or the Portability Law, for example, are not entitled to year-end cash gifts nor to an increase in pension; retirees under other laws, on the other hand, enjoy these benefits. The discrimination continues even after RA 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, enacted in 2010, that provides such benefits to be given to all retirees.

There are several bills being deliberated in Congress that will address such discrepancies or inconsistencies, such as House Resolution No. 1639 filed by Rep. Francisco G. Datol Jr. of the Senior Citizen party-list that seeks to review the Portability Law, with a view to equalize the benefits.

In the Senate, Sen. Bam Aquino filed Senate Resolution No. 583 that also seeks a review  on the Portability Law’s provisions on benefits. Sen. Grace Poe has also filed another resolution on the same subject.

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There are many other bills for the benefit of seniors and retirees, too long to enumerate here. It is about time Congress acted on them before the seniors leave this world.

MAFEO R. VIBAL, vice president and legislative liaison officer, Philippine Association of Retired Persons

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TAGS: Cielito F. Habito, Inquirer letters, Mafeo R. Vibal, reteriment benefits, retirees, Senior citizens
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