Imee: 100 years too long to wait for centenarian benefits

Senator Imee Marcos has expressed her full support to the measure advancing the government’s cash gift for Filipino centenarians even before they reach 100 years old.

Marcos, chairman of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development, sponsored a consolidated bill of amendments to the Centenarians Act of 2016, with input from fellow Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Christopher ‘’Bong’’ Go, Risa Hontiveros, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Sherwin Gatchalian.

In her sponsorship speech Wednesday, March 22, Marcos said senior citizens would be able to receive portions of the P100,000 cash gift when they reach 80, 90, and 100 years old, if the consolidated bill is passed into law.

To ensure that no senior citizen 80 years old and above is left out, Marcos also introduced the creation of an Elderly Management System, which mandates the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to record relevant demographic data, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Information and Technology (DICT) the National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC), and local government units (LGUs).

“Meron tayong kasabihan: Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo? Dapat mapakinabangan ng ating mga lolo’t lola ang kanilang nararapat na benepisyo habang sila’y buhay pa (We have a saying: What use is cut grass to a dead horse? Our grandparents should be able to enjoy their due benefits while they’re still around.),” the lady senator said.

“Sa awa ng Diyos, mabibigyan pa tayong lahat ng mahabang buhay. Sana’y hindi natin maramdaman ang pagka-balewala sa ating pagtanda (With God’s mercy, we will all be blessed with a long life. May we not endure neglect in our old age.),” she added.

Recent government statistics put Filipinos’ average life expectancy at 79 years old for men and 83 years old for women, with only 10 percent of more than nine million senior citizens who are at least 80 years old.

Marcos emphasized that the high cost of basic necessities and of maintenance medicines for common elderly illnesses as heart ailments, diabetes, and kidney failure call for advancing portions of the cash gift for centenarians.

Funding the amendments to the Centenarians Act will be included in the annual national budget, subject to a yearly review and adjustment by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) according to the average inflation rate of three prior years.

Revilla, for his part,  Jr. co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 2028 under Committee Report No. 61 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 10868 or the “Centenarians Act of 2016” in order to grant monetary benefits to senior citizens aged 80 years old and 90 years old.

Revilla is the principal author of the bill. The lawmaker first advocated the amendments in 2020 during the 18th Congress.

Under the present law, only those who reach the age of 100 years enjoy the benefit of a cash gift.

However, many senior citizens do not reach the said age.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the average life expectancy in 2022 is 71 years for Filipino men and 78 years for Filipino women.

If approved, a cash gift in the total amount of P100,000 shall be distributed in three equal tranches to individuals upon reaching the ages of 80, 90, and 100.

Moreover, the measure provides that amount shall be subject to annual adjustment by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to account for inflation.