New Sorsogon mayor bent on restoring benefits of city’s elderly

By Oliver Samson

Ada B. Jasareno, volunteer at the Office of Senior Citizen Affairs in Sorsogon City, processes a transaction by an indigent elderly. Image is from the Business Mirror site.

SORSOGON CITY—Mayor Sally A. Lee, who served as the city’s first chief executive for six straight years after winning in the 2001 election, has asked the Office of Senior Citizen Affairs (Osca) to provide her an updated record of registered elderly pensioners of the city, Osca Action Officer Mirasol L. Jeresano said on August 8.

“The first thing our mayor requested from us is to look into the number of our pensioners,” she told the BusinessMirror.

Lee requires an updated figure by which her programs for senior citizens will rely on, Jeresano said.

Based on culled records from previous administrations, Osca has 9,275 registered card-bearing elderly living in the city’s 64 barangays, she said.

But this figure is not updated and has not included the death of some of the city’s elderly during the six straight years that former Mayor Leovic R. Dioneda held office, she said.

“We found out during the allotment of their pension that some deceased members are still in the master list,” Jeresano said.

Lee relinquished the reign in city hall when she ran and won the gubernatorial race in 2007. However, she did not seek any elective position in 2010 and chose to live a private life. In 2013 she decided to challenge Dioneda whom she defeated for the third time.

The city’s registered card-bearing elderly may increase in number during Lee’s term, she said.

“Our office processes no less than 10 applications daily,” Jeresano said.

Currently 426 card-bearing indigent elderly age 77 and above receive a P500-monthly allowance from the national fund through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) program, which is granted every quarter, she said.

“We give the pension for the qualified elderly every first month of each quarter,” Jeresano said.

In barangays whose elderly citizens are younger than 77 years, the P500-monthly pension may be given to the elderly age 75, she said.

In one of their meetings on the concerns of the city’s older population, Jeresano consulted Lee about Osca’s plan to enlist more pensioners to which the mayor positively responded.

Osca will suggest to the mayor to give the elderly sugar-free birthday cakes, Jeresano said.

Osca will provide the city’s elderly with free medical and dental services, she said. The free reflexology that they enjoyed during the previous tenure of Lee as mayor will be restored.

Jeresano is set to discuss with the president of the senior-citizens’ association activities for the elderly during the Senior Citizens’ Week in October. They plan to start the celebration of the city’s elderly with a morning Mass then.

Other activities will include lectures on health and wellness and on their discount privileges, Jeresano said.

Since the older population love socials, ballroom dancing will take a special place during Senior Citizens’ Week, she said. Each barangay will present a number to enliven the event.

Just recently, a team-building activity for the city’s elderly was conducted at the city hall attended by the presidents of the elderly organization at the barangay level. Activities included workshops on spiritual life, and health and wellness. Participants were coached on managing their stress.

Jeresano, for the good of the elderly, complains to establishments and drivers of public transportation in the city who are not complying with Republic Act 9994, the current law governing the benefits the country’s elderly are entitled to.

A number of local groceries and drugstores do not give discounts to card-bearing elderly, she said. Neither do some public utility jeepney drivers.

One of Osca’s plans is to meet the owners of business establishments and operators of public utility vehicles to remind them of the privileges and benefits the elderly should enjoy, Jeresano said.

Original article is published at Business Mirror on August 18, 2013.

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