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Honor thy senior citizens

/ 12:16 AM February 08, 2016

A society that cares for its elderly and respects the welfare of the old is truly heaven on earth. A government that does not prepare its young for a better future will be the same one to disrespect the elderly of its day.

The Association of Women in Theology joins the continuing clamor for a P2,000-increase in the monthly pension of all Social Security System pensioners. The proposal, initiated by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri

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Colmenares, reminds us of our obligation as a society to care for the old and elderly. In this way, we honor and cherish the working people who exerted the best of their time, strength and intellect to provide not only for themselves but also for those who depended on them. From their hard work and service, a portion of their income was deducted— faithfully, albeit forcefully—every month for their social security in the future.

We are witnesses to the hard work of the Filipino people. We are aware of the conditions many elderly and aging people are in because of our work in churches, parishes, community and social service agencies and academic institutions, as well as in justice, peace and human rights advocacy groups.

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With the majority of Filipinos in the grip of agonizing unemployment, poverty and economic crisis, it is not surprising that some pensioners still provide for dependent family members. Retirees, especially women, do not actually retire from taking care of family members; their pensions are used to help cover the needs of their children and grandchildren, even as they, the older ones especially, are usually in need of medical support and medicines to maintain their health.

Worse, the privatization of health services and the rising costs of medicines make the upkeep of the people’s health more expensive. A pension increase would certainly help our elderly.

We believe the bill seeking the P2,000-pension increase is a unifying measure well-studied by Congress. President Aquino’s reason for vetoing the bill is, it could lead the SSS to bankruptcy by 2029. Denying the SSS pensioners their right to enjoy security, a reward they justly deserve for their labor and sacrifices, is moral bankruptcy. In this light, we call for an immediate lifestyle check of the SSS’ executives. It is alarming and scandalous that most of them receive more than P1 million each annually. We call for the release to the public of a full report on all of the SSS’ administrative expenses, investments, service disbursements and pensions.

As women who care for the young, we are also women who look after the welfare of the elderly. We condemn ageism as an eminent character of patriarchy. We denounce a system that does not give due respect to retirees, who fully deserve better social and basic services.

A way of favoring the pensioners is to override President Aquino’s veto.

We call on the churches and faithful to join the people in expressing our commitment to respect and honor the elderly.

—REV. RHEA LOQUIAS, DEACONESS DARLENE MARQUEZ-CARAMANZANA, DEACONESS NORMA P. DOLLAGA, REV. ESTHER D. SINGURAN, DR. LIZA LAMIS, SEMINARIAN HAZEL JOYCE SALATAN, National Council of Leaders, Association of Women in Theology, Awit.National@gmail.com

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TAGS: hike, increase, letter, opinion, pension, Senior citizen, SSS, veto
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