PBBM should revamp the National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC) | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

PBBM should revamp the National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC)

/ 05:00 AM July 09, 2024

This agency, created under Republic Act No. 11350, has miserably failed its mandate to protect the interests of 12 million senior citizens.  It is riddled with graft and corruption while present infighting among its primary officers is rendering the agency more and more irrelevant. 

Under the law the NCSC is the agency tasked to distribute the “monthly social pension “of more than 4 million indigent senior citizens. But because of NCSC’s numerous internal problems, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for five years ago, chose to handle the monthly payout until today, and refuses to turnover billions of pesos to the commission.

Congress has been very, very generous in helping senior citizens, providing funds, from P25.4B in 2023, doubled to P49.87B this year, 2024. But for the past five years, the NCSC has registered in its national database, only 4 million out of 12 million senior citizens. This very slow inability did not capture the remaining eight million senior citizens which directly deprived them from accessing much needed discounts, privileges and government services.

Just a week ago, five NCSC top officers issued a manifesto calling on their Chairman Franklin Quijano to step down, accusing him of grave abuse of authority, gross misconduct, gross negligence of duty, ignorance of the law and conduct inimical to the interest of the public.

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The five were NCSC Commissioners Rainier Cruz, Enriqueta Rodeles, Mary Jean Loreche, Edwin Espejo and Reymar Mansilungan who said the commission was fiscally mismanaged and  has no clear projects  since Quijano assumed office in 2019. “The problems in the NCSC keep piling up and must be addressed sooner, Loreche said.

“In a painful yet necessary and a must decision, we collectively put our names in and sign this manifesto calling for the immediate resignation of Chairman Franklin M. Quijano on grounds that are to the best interest of public service and most especially for the general welfare of the 12 million senior citizens in the country,” the manifesto read. “We appeal to his sense of propriety and decency to quit and find the platform, if there is, where his kind leadership may find its place,” it added.

In response , Quijano, former Iligan city mayor , dismissed his colleagues’ allegations. “I will not resign,” he said.  “Why will I resign? Their accusations are baseless,” he reiterated.” I am hoping that before they accuse me in public , they should have confronted me with documents, papers and evidence” for due process. “ I am opening up NCSC to public scrutiny and let them see”, he added. Quijano’s term  as NCSC chairman will expire in September 2025.

Meanwhile, one of the accusing NCSC  commissioners, Rey Mansilungan  was  meted a  90-day preventive suspension  by Malacanang last February  pending investigation of his administrative offenses of serious dishonesty, gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct, gross insubordination, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

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After its preliminary investigation, the Office of the President found prima facie evidence against Mansilungan, accused of misrepresentation of his educational attainment in his application as NCSC commissioner. He also received payments from public funds for supposed rental of an office in Lucena City and charged his personal expenses for his meals and alcoholic beverages to the training funds of NSCS.  Mansilungan allegedly used NCSC’s resources for his private activities and gave mid-year bonuses to contract of service (COS) personnel, which was a violation of the DBM and COA policies. 

No wonder, that for the past five years, the National Commission of Senior citizens failed to create and work with Congress to fund comprehensive social safety nets for all senior citizens today. It failed to address the five major impediments faced by the  elderly, namely limited awareness of discounts and privileges, lack of uniformity and implementation technological barriers to availing discounts online, , the tedious requirements of purchase booklets and lastly the low base rates of discounts for necessities and prime commodities (P1,300 per week)

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Even at this point, it is unclear on the mandate of the NCSC on all  local Offices of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) . Do these OSCA personnel possess enough training and resources to resolve complaints and ensure implementation of rules and regulations affecting senior citizens? Can these OSCA personnel handle complaints against  Restaurants Malls, Hotels Drug companies etc.  Particular questions are the promo prices of food  establishments who deny seniors of their discounts.

The NCSC is the government’s lead agency in helping our Senior citizens on their journey through healthcare, catastrophic medicine costs and other basic necessities. They’ve worked too hard in their prime and government must now provide them with little pleasures  in their old age.

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If the Palace fails to arrest this very obvious inutility of the NCSC and their officers for these past five years, then the twelve million senior citizens  nationwide will know what to do to the administration candidates  in the coming  May 2025 elections and presidential elections in 2028.

TAGS: opinion, Senior citizens

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