The rights of senior citizens, particularly access to basic health and social services to ensure their health and well – being amid the ongoing health crisis, is this year’s focus of the 26th Elderly Filipino Week (EFW) slated on October 1 to 7.

The EFW celebration is spearheaded by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in partnership with other government agencies, non-government organizations, and the private sector.

The nationwide celebration started in 1994 with the issuance of Proclamation No. 470  highlighting the significant role of the senior citizens’ sector in nation-building and in advocating for the promotion of their rights and welfare.

This year’s celebration carries the theme, “Healthy and Productive Aging Starts With ME,” which seeks to promote the health, wellness, and productivity of senior citizens, particularly during the pandemic.

Due to the current National State of Emergency and enforcement of community quarantine measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, there will be no national celebration.

Instead, DSWD is calling on national government agencies, local government units, and civil society organizations to keep in mind the significance of the Elderly Filipino Week and to work together to ensure that the rights and welfare of senior citizens are respected, protected and promoted.

Since senior citizens are considered as high risk for virus transmission, the Department is appealing to the sector to refrain from holding mass gatherings during the week-long observance.

National Respect for Centenarians’ Day

Meanwhile, in conjunction with the EFW is the National Respect for Centenarians Day (NRCD) on October 4 or the First Sunday of October.

The NRCD is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016. The law states that all Filipinos, who have reached 100 years old and above, whether residing in the Philippines or abroad shall be honored with a Letter of Felicitation from the President of the Philippines congratulating them for their longevity, and a centenarian gift in the amount of P100,000.

As of September 14, 2020, some 709 centenarians have received the P100,000 centenarian gift.

Promoting seniors’ rights, welfare

As part of its advocacy in promoting older persons’ rights and welfare, DSWD works closely with various senior citizens’ associations and NGOs, such as the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (COSE) and the Federation of Senior Citizens Associations in the Philippines (FSCAP) to advocate for legislative measures.

This year, the Anti-Elder Abuse Bill is one of the Department’s priority legislative measures. The Anti-Elder Abuse Bill, which was re-filed this 18th Congress, seeks to penalize abuses committed against senior citizens, and develop strategies to prevent or reduce the abuses committed against them.

The Department urges all sectors to work together in building a caring society where the rights of older persons are protected and respected. -30-