Elderly in Sorsogon City are not getting their benefits

Sorsogon City Federation of Senior Citizens at their office in Sorsogon City. From left are Amalia Aguila, treasurer; Fermin Aguila, member; Hilda Barro, president; and Beatriz Forcadilla, member of the Board of Trustees. (Oliver Samson)

SORSOGON CITY—The 15,000 elderly people here, who deserve to enjoy the promises of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, have been neglected during the past several years, Sorsogon City Federation of Senior Citizens President Hilda O. Barro said.

The federation has not received half of the city’s 1- percent Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) during the last six consecutive years, which, as mandated by law, the elderly should receive, she said.

Except for the cost of the annual celebration of the elderly week, which the city mayor’s office should fund, the group assumed all the federation expenses during the period, said Barro, a retired professor of Sorsogon College of Arts and Trade.

During the most recent holding of the elderly week, the federation itself shouldered the cost of the Mass for its members, she said. The newly elected city Mayor Sally A. Lee provided them with a free snack.

The federation has to be resourceful and self-reliant as their letter to the city chief executive, forwarded a few years ago, still anticipates a positive response, Barro said. For more than a time, the elderly were told the city was experiencing financial difficulties and thus was unable to  give elderly citizens their share.

There was no outing of any kind in the past several years, she said. Their request for such outdoor enjoyment did not receive any answer from the city government.

In fact, the letter is usually left on the table lying unanswered, the federation president said.

The city elderly developed a general feeling of being ignored and uncared for, Barro said.

This condition was made worse by local authorities’ failure to enforce to the full extent of the law the 20-percent discount on medicine.

Only elderly citizens bearing a physician’s prescription are given discounts on medicines by drugstores, she said. How about over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol, mefenamic acid, amoxicillin and many others? she asked.

The elderly, especially the indigent, do not have to pay for a doctor’s prescription only to get a discount on medicines and vitamins that are commonly bought over the counter.

She called on local authorities and entities involved in applying the elderly citizens’ 20-percent discount on medicine to mandate without discriminating against the elderly for simply not holding a prescription paper.

This appeal on medicine privilege has been voiced for five years, Barro said. But the appeal has fallen on deaf ears.

Stressors for the elderly do not end there, Barro said. The federation is not happy about the 5-ercent discount on grocery items. The offer could cost their health.

While some grocery stores in the city discount elderly citizens by 5 percent on a number of items, which include sugar, instant noodles and sardines, milk is exempted, she said.

Barro is questioning the lack of nutritional value the elderly can get from instant noodles and sardines, which are laden with harmful food preservatives. Sugar is not good for the elderly, especially diabetics, she said.

She laments that milk, which has good nutrients like protein to offer to the aging, ironically is not discounted.

The federation president also called on the city mayor to provide the elderly, especially the poor, with free pneumonia and flu vaccines.

Old people are susceptible to both viral infections due to weather changes, Barro said. The vaccines would help shield their body from these health threats.

Currently, the group is raising money through a raffle draw and hopes the federation would start to receive half of the city’s 1-percent IRA.

She feels her group of old people is justified in fighting for their rights.

The original article is published at Business Mirror on December 1, 2013.

This entry was posted in Arts and Lifestyle, Retirement and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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