Press Release
May 23, 2016

Bill seeks to give centenarians P100k in cash

A bill seeking to grant centenarians P100,000 in cash and a letter of felicitation from the president was approved by the Senate on third and final reading.

The bill is among the pending legislation passed by the Senate before both houses of Congress will convene as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) to canvass the votes for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the May 9 elections.

Senator Nancy Binay, sponsor of Senate Bill No. 449 or the Centenarians Act of 2013, said the proposed measure also seeks to declare every September 25th as "National Respect for Centenarians Day." Binay is the chairperson of the Committee of Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

The bill was introduced by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senator Cynthia Villar.

"The proposed measure is the Senate's way of recognizing the country's centenarians, who have reached the milestone age of one hundred years old, often through clean and responsible living. They are good examples for our people, and help encourage a healthier lifestyle among our citizenry," Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said.

"We have a culture of taking care and providing for our elders. It is somewhat a voluntary obligation imposed on oneself. Let us keep this unique Filipino trait of taking care of our elderly by honoring our centenarians," Binay said in her sponsorship speech.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines centenarian as "one that is a hundred years old or older."

Binay cited a World Health Organization data which showed that Filipino life expectancy for both male and female is 65 and 72 years, respectively. On the other hand, she said, records from the National Statistical Coordination Board Fact Sheet pegged Filipino life expectancy at 67.6 years for the male and 73.1 years for the female.

According to Binay, records from the Department of Social Welfare and Development showed that there were 3,533 centenarians as of 2015. Recto, co-sponsor of the bill, said that once the measure was passed into law, the city or town where the centenarians live must give him or her a plaque of recognition on his or her 100th birthday.

Centenarians, he noted, are so few that the bill would not burn a hole in the taxpayer's pocket as the centenarians represent only a small percentage of the population.

Meanwhile, the Senate also approved on final reading a bill seeking to require all TV networks to use closed caption options on television programs so people with hearing impairments could enjoy a full variety of television programs.

Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2239, said that closed captioning would permit the hearing-impaired to "engage and be part of popular culture." The bill was authored by Poe and Senators Bong Revilla and Loren Legarda.

Under the bill, closed caption shall mean a method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical data signal that are decoded at the receiver and super imposed at the bottom of the television screen.

Franchise holders or operators of TV stations and producers of TV programs will now be required to use closed caption options in their programs.

Once the bill is passed into law, Poe said the Philippines would join the rest of its Southeast Asian neighbors like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, in providing a closed-captioning system to help the deaf and the hearing-impaired community.

Senator Bam Aquino, co- sponsor of the bill, said closed captioning would enable people with hearing impairments to engage in public affairs.

He said closed captioning would keep Filipinos with hearing disability updated with current events, similar to TV5 which has a sign language inserted in its newscast.

"We need to support measures that would provide the hearing-impaired with proper support and care and help them integrate into society by assisting them to find jobs and become productive members of the society," Aquino said. (Iris Espolong/Bianca Fermiza/OJT)

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