MANILA - Lawmakers on Wednesday had to reconsider proposals to establish state-funded nursing homes for senior citizens nationwide after realizing that several local government units cannot afford to shoulder new subsidies for the elderly.
At least 2 Senate bills authored by Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. sought to build nursing homes in every city and municipality that could provide free housing and health care for abandoned or impoverished elderly Filipinos.
Each health care facility may need at least P50,000 monthly to afford the daily needs of its elderly residents and employ medical staff and social workers, Revilla said in a congressional hearing.
"Long-term care is not feasible to do per local government unit pero kung social recreation center, baka 'yun puwede pa (that might be possible)," Sen. Nancy Binay said.
But Gatchalian said the blanket proposal could be amended to limit the coverage to highly-urbanized cities, noting the need to increase public homes for the aged since the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) only has four facilities for the elderly in Metro Manila, Rizal, Mindanao.
"I am for a decentralized system where local governments are empowered to put up their own nursing homes," he said, noting that his hometown Valenzuela City has been running its own nursing home for the elderly since 2012.
The government also needs to conduct more studies about abandoned elderly Filipinos to allow lawmakers to craft more effective bills, he said.
As of 2015, there are about 7.84 million elderly Filipinos, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority, but the DSWD has yet to identify how many of these persons have been abandoned by their families.