Party-list group, DOLE ink deal for senior citizens jobs

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    THE Ang Probinsyano party-list has partnered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to provide jobs to senior citizens who remain physically fit despite their advanced age.

    The joint program, which is part of DOLE’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers or TUPAD, will be launched this morning at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), which has entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with Secretary Silvestre Bello III for the pilot implementation of the special employment program for senior citizens.

    Ang Probinsyano party-list Rep. Ronnie Ong said the various discounts and other perks now being enjoyed by Filipino senior citizens are not enough since many of them still live in abject poverty.

    “They have discounts on food, medicine, transportation and even entertainment but what’s the use of all these perks if our senior citizens do not have the money to spend? I really think that the government should open more economic opportunities for our senior citizens and let them enjoy life even in their twilight years,” Ong said.

    Ong said senior citizens who will be hired by the PUP will be given menial jobs that are not physically strenuous.

    The salaries of the senior citizen workers under this program shall be based on the minimum salary in each region. In the National Capital Region (NCR) for example, they will get P537.00 per day.

    Ong said another MOA will be signed with UP and he is hoping that this program will be replicated in other state universities and public schools nationwide.

    In PUP alone, there will be a total of 60 senior citizens who will be given work until Dec 31, 2019.

    Ong is also pushing for the institutionalization of this special work-for-pay program by filing House Bill 5362 or the Senior Citizens Employment Opportunity Act to ensure the automatic employment allocation for Filipinos aged 60 years old and above.

    Ong’s bill seeks to amend section 5 of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (Republic Act 9994) to ensure that senior citizens whose annual income is below the poverty threshold as determined by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) are given priority employment through job matches provided by the DOLE and the National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC).

    HB 5362 also compels all government offices to invite, select and hire qualified senior citizens for positions, qualifications and functions initially determined by DOLE, the NCSC and the Civil Service Commission.

    The private sector is also encouraged to hire senior citizens and in return, they shall be entitled to an additional tax deduction from their gross income equivalent to 70 percent of the total amount paid as wages to senior citizens subject to compliance or the pertinent provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

    Labor Assistant Secretary Benjo Benavidez said hiring senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) are not enough to comply with the Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment law.

    Benavidez said it is also imperative for employers in the private sector to give their elderly and PWD workers with the necessary employment benefits.

    “Employers in the private sector are reminded to provide their senior citizens and differently-abled workers with equal wages and benefits,” Benavidez said.

    As an example, the labor official noted that the four-hour work scheme of the employed senior citizens and PWDs should be according to the minimum wage law.

    On the other hand, he said PWDs and senior citizens working for more than eight hours should be compensated with appropriate overtime pay.

    The DOLE issued the statement after photos on various social media sites, such as Facebook, of senior citizens and persons with disabilities working in fast food chains and restaurants in Metro Manila went viral.

    According to Benavidez, such a development is a welcome one as it goes in accordance with the government’s advocacy of equal opportunities in employment.

    “The Department is glad to receive these reports because they are being given the chance to have income and participate in the economic activity of the country despite their age or disability,” said Benavidez. – With Gerard Naval