Detained Senator Leila de Lima is now pushing for the passage of a measure that seeks to provide free immunization to senior citizens.
“No less than the Constitution guarantees that the needs of the elderly in relation to their right to health shall be given priority by the state. Clearly, senior citizens belong to a special class of individuals for which the Constitution affords preferential concern,” De Lima said in filing Senate Bill No. 1641.
The bill primarily seeks to amend the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 or Republic Act No. 9994, and uphold social justice in the protection and promotion of senior citizens’ right to health.
“Their growing number, coupled with their susceptibilities, has now made it vital for the state to make the promotion and protection of their health and well-being among its priority social legislation,” she added.
The chair of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development also said the measure, likewise, aims to respond to the need to protect elderly citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic which targets their already vulnerable sector.
“Instead of merely locking them in their homes, the State must advocate for measures that will ensure the health and safety of the elderly with the least burden on their part,” De Lima said.
She further stressed that senior citizens who have once contributed to society should not be merely consigned to oblivion: “Their rights and welfare must be upheld and protected.”
According to de Lima, a 2019 report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that the Philippines is projected to transition to an aging population between 2025-2030.
She said the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) itself underscored the need to develop policies and address developmental issues that affect the older population “before it is too late.”
She said the bill will help address these issues since providing free immunization to all senior citizens will also prevent the country’s health care system from being overburdened by the influx of the number of cases that could have otherwise, been avoided with immunization.
Once De Lima’s bill becomes a law, senior citizens will be given access to free vaccination against the influenza virus, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis and pneumococcal disease and other similarly approved vaccinations by the Department of Health (DOH) to help them maintain quality life.
“Safeguarding seniors is the least we can do to repay them for helping us build our nation,” she said.