Senior citizens bat for pension fund, slam lower criminal liability age

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2019 04:37 PM

Senior citizens bat for pension fund, slam lower criminal liability age 1
Advocates for elderly welfare hold placards in support of bills seeking to create a universal social pension fund for senior citizens, Monday. ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A senior citizens' coalition on Monday urged lawmakers to pass a law that will create a universal social pension fund instead of tinkering with the country’s minimum age of criminal responsibility. 

“Ang aming panawagan, pension para sa aming mga lolo at lola, hindi kulong sa aming mga apo,” said Rita Francisco of Aksyon sa Pensyon Coalition.

(Our request is pension for grandparents like us, not jail for our grandchildren.) 

President Rodrigo Duterte sought to bring down the age of criminal liability from the current 15 to further extend his deadly crackdown on drugs and crime, which has killed thousands since mid-2016. 

His allies originally proposed lowering the age of criminal liability to 9, but after mounting outrage the House of Representatives raised it to 12 and passed the bill on the second reading last week. 

Backing the seniors' clamor were Coalition for the Services of the Elderly, Akbayan Party-list, and the Confederation of Older Person’s Association of the Philippines (COPAP). 

A social pension system that grants a monthly stipend to all senior citizens will help them meet their daily needs and will help economic growth, the groups said. 

A bill pending before the House population and family relations committee seeks to double the P500 monthly social pension and remove indigency as a qualification for beneficiaries. 

The proposed measure has stalled in the panel since February last year, said Emily Beridico of Coalition for the Services of the Elderly. 

Counterpart legislation filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the upper chamber seeks to replace the social pension system for senior citizens with a universal program that will not take into account the beneficiaries' financial status. 

The group Child Rights Network (CRN) supported the measure, saying Congress should focus on the elderly's welfare instead of debating on lowering the age of criminal responsibility. 

“It's not about the age, it's not about the number -- it's about the system. We need to fix our system to serve our children,” said CRN's Atty. Cristina Sevilla. 

The groups believe lawmakers can pass the law with just 20 days to go before they adjourn. 

The government needs to allocate at least P104 billion to fund the proposal, the groups estimated. This is on top of the pension funds from the Social Security System (SSS).