2013 Accomplishments of the NCMB Secretariat
The National Coordinating and Monitoring Board (NCMB) Secretariat has accomplished much in 2013 in ensuring that our senior citizens enjoy their benefits and privileges under Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
The NCMB Secretariat has continuously followed-up with concerned government agencies the issuance of updated and appropriate supplemental guidelines that will facilitate the implementation of RA 9994 provisions. Some of the most recent issuances were the updated guidelines from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), namely CHED Memorandum No. 56, Series of 2012, and TESDA Circular No. 04, Series of 2013, particularly granting more flexible rules for scholarship grants and financial assistance for seniors wishing to continue their formal education or pursue technical or vocational training. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) also moved independently of the Department of Health (DOH) and came up with two new circulars that reminded their accredited hospitals of granting senior citizens medical benefits under the law. PhilHealth Circular No. 056, Series of 2012 and PhilHealth Circular No. 0011, Series of 2013, specified how the PhilHealth reimbursement, the 20% senior citizens’ discount as well as the 12% VAT exemption should be computed. Meanwhile, both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry likewise amended their previously issued Joint Administrative Order #10-02, Series of 2010. The Central bank of the Philippines or Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas also issued Circular No. 5, Series of 2013 requiring the strict implementation of senior citizens priority lanes in BSP-supervised banks or financial institutions.
For more efficient implementation, the DSWD, through the NCMB, also dialogued with the DOH, the DTI, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), as well private sector groups such as the Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) League and Jollibee Food Corporation, for improved guidelines that will facilitate availment of the discounts.
Advocacy efforts to popularize RA 9994 were also undertaken by the NCMB via television and radio exposures like its interviews with Jessica Soho’s State of the Nation, Reporter’s Notebook, DZMM teleradyo, DZAS phone-patch, Sonshine Radio on Dagupan City, Aksyon Radyo in San Fernando, La Union, DZTP Tirad Pass in Candon City, Bombo Radyo-Ilocos Norte.
In addition, numerous orientations, briefings, and special lectures on RA 9994 were given as technical assistance to government agencies like the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Environment and Resources (DENR), the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), some LGUs or Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCAs), as well as senior citizens associations.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:27)
DSWD co-sponsors Consultative Conference on Older Persons Issues with PWU
Last October 3, 2013, the DSWD co-sponsored with the Philippine Women’s University (PWU) Institute of Family Studies a Consultative Conference on Older Persons Issues.
With funding from the Protective Services Bureau (PSB) of the Operations and Programs Group, the activity was meant to generate dialogue and discussion on relevant issues and concerns of the Filipino elderly which caregivers and service providers must be aware of.
Through the initiative of former DSWD Secretary Lina Laigo, PWU’s plans for a Certificate Program on Elderly Care was brought to the attention of the DSWD earlier in 2013. As an initial step, a consultative conference was proposed to flesh out the different topics and subject matters to be included in the draft curriculum, with participants from concerned government agencies, LGU representatives via respective Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCAs), and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) catering to senior citizens and/or elderly groups and People’s Organizations (POs).
With the assistance of the Senior Citizens Focal Persons from the different offices and bureaus, who also happen to be members of the 2014 EFW Steering Committee, the event was made a part of the official 2014 Elderly Filipino Week (EFW) celebrations that covered October 1 to 7 of each year.
Speakers at the conference included Dr. Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines Department of Social Sciences and Anthropology in Diliman, who gave his anthropological and sociological take on elderly concerns, and Dr. Grace Cruz of the UP Institute of Population Studies also from Diliman, who shared part of the findings of their 2007 Philippine Longitudinal Study on Ageing.
Mrs. Salvacion Basiano of the people’s organization, COPAP, also shared the unique experience of seniors from the grassroots level and their prime concerns. Her speech became the perfect take-off point for the open forum and workshops that followed later that day.
Break-out groups focused on health concerns such as nutrition, fitness, and sanitation, spiritual, emotional and mental health, economics and enterpreneurship, culture and arts for those seniors still wanting to be productive and be financially independent, as well as volunteerism, stewardship, and state responsibilities for engaging with government mechanisms.
Another follow-up activity has been planned before the certificate program shall be piloted with willing enrolees from the same participants.
Last Updated (Thursday, 16 January 2014 05:33)
DSWD and NCMB to celebrate the 2013 Elderly Filipino Week
This October, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board (NCMB) will join other agencies and senior citizens organizations in celebrating the annual Elderly Filipino Week (EFW).
This year’s theme is “Nakatatanda: Pagtulungang Isulong Benepisyo't Karapatan tungo sa Maginhawa at Masayang Pamayanan" and is aimed at promoting greater participation and cooperation among the different stakeholders to ensure that senior citizens enjoy their benefits and privileges under the law.
From October 1 to 7, the yearly events will be held, such as the “Walk for Life” sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH), the awarding of the “Ulirang Nakatatanda” organized by the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE), and the VISO-jail visits to elderly inmates by the DSWD-NCR and the Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (FSCAP).
As part of advocacy efforts, the DSWD Central Office through the NCMB Unit will also sponsor a forum on Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 for DSWD retirees and other senior citizens of nearby government offices. Invited as resource speakers for the October 2 activity are representatives from the DOH, the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Also considered as part of the official programme of activities this EFW 2013 is the Consultative Conference on Older Persons Issues by the Philippine Women’s University - Institute of Family Life and Children’s Studies and the DSWD. The one-day event slated for October 3 will be held at the Conrado Benitez Hall at the PWU-Taft campus in Manila, and is expected to be attended by 100 participants from senior citizens associations and different fields of discipline involved in elderly care.
For the past 3 years, there have also been FREE rides given to senior citizens by the MetroRail Transit (MRT), the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR), a privilege that is hoped to be enjoyed for the weekend of October 5-6, 2013.
The week’s opening salvo shall be held at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) in Pasay City where a short program shall follow the Walk for Life parade of NCR’s senior citizens.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:29)
DSWD Holds a Special Forum on Social Insurance Benefits for its Senior Citizens and Retirees
On October 2, 2013, as part of the 2013 Elderly Filipino Week (EFW) celebrations, the DSWD Central Office held a forum on Republic Act No. 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, and other social insurance benefits of senior citizens. The NCMB in cooperation with the Human Resources Development Bureau (HRDB) organized this special forum for the DSWD’s retirees for them to know more about existing laws and policies governing retirement from public service and other relevant social security benefits.
The NCMB Secretariat’s Atty. Germaine Trittle P. Leonin gave an overview of the main features and highlights of RA 9994 to contextualize the focus of the forum. The second speaker was Ms. Remedios “Jing” Guerrero of the Department of Health (DOH) who clarified the availment of medical benefits and health privileges by senior citizens under the new DOH guidelines, including the proper computation of the 20% discount and VAT exemptions, as well as the PhilHealth coverage. Previously, during special meetings with PhilHealth representatives, they shared their two latest circulars implementing RA 9994 and facilitating the availment of the PhilHealth reimbursements. They currently have the “lifetime membership” program which allows previous Medicare members to complete a minimum number of months of premium payments or contributions to avail of PhilHealth benefits till their remaining days. There are also influenza and pneumonia vaccines specifically for senior citizens available at selected PhilHealth-accredited government hospitals at discounted rates. PhilHealth benefits also covers a set of laboratory and diagnostic tests and medical check-ups usually availed of by senior citizens.
Other speakers also included the Civil Service Commission (CSC), who encouraged regular pre-retirement programs and activities to be institutionalized by different government agencies, including active ageing and recreation programs. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) also sent representatives from their main office and Quezon City branch to speak about their current projects for the senior citizens. Most welcome is their ongoing review of the retirement or pension schemes to bring it at par with present rates of retirees. They also have programs to facilitate easier and quicker receipt of pensions for retiring government employees by allowing “advance” filing of requirements. They also have scheme where previous loans may be settled and records updated more efficiently so as not to delay receipt of retirement benefits.
The information shared was most useful and DSWD employees hope said forum will be picked up by the HRDB and be made a regular activity for retirees.
Last Updated (Thursday, 16 January 2014 05:34)
DSWD Clarifies ID requirement for Senior Citizens Discounts
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has affirmed that failure to present a Senior Citizens Identification Card issued by the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) is not a ground for non-availment of senior citizens discount privileges under Republic Act No. 9994.
Business establishments are reminded that the private sector cannot refuse to grant senior citizens their discount privileges if they are able to present other government-issued identification documents that prove they are already senior citizens.
Both RA 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) provide for the use of proper identification documents as proof of eligibility of a senior citizen to avail of the benefits and privileges under RA 9994. Foremost of these is the Senior Citizens’ Identification (ID) Card issued by the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) in the city or municipality where the elderly resides.
In addition to the OSCA-issued Senior Citizen’s ID card, however, a Philippine passport and other government-issued identification cards that show a senior citizen’s age and/or birthdate such as a driver’s license, voters ID, SSS/GSIS ID, PRC card, and postal ID may likewise be shown to avail of SC discount benefits. Note that as a social welfare legislation, RA 9994 is meant to benefit our own Filipino elderly. Thus, besides proof of age, 60 years and older, availing senior citizens must also be able to prove Filipino citizenship and actual residency in the country, hence the need to present the above-mentioned identification documents.
Nonetheless, the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board (NCMB), an inter-agency committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of RA 9994 and chaired by the DSWD, stands by its previous policy of giving premium to the OSCA-issued Senior Citizens ID cards, and enjoins both the elderly community and the private sector to follow Rule IV, Article 6 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations as much as possible. Said provision was specifically included to prevent abuse of the SC discounts and as a means of monitoring the senior citizens population benefitting from the said privileges.
Reiterating the agreements reached by various stakeholders during the drafting of the IRR in 2010, the general rule is that OSCA-issued SC ID cards are to be used in the availment of benefits under RA 9994. However, in case the senior citizen inadvertently fails to present the OSCA ID, but is able to show another government-issued ID, businesses must grant the SC discount, especially for purchases of medicines and basic necessities.
For this purpose, NCMB Resolution No. 1-2013, Series of 2013 has recently been issued for immediate circulation to all concerned.
Last Updated (Wednesday, 15 January 2014 01:29)