Loren bats for senior citizens' rights
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - November 4, 2010 - 12:00am

Sen. Loren Legarda is mainly associated with her determined advocacy of environmental conservation, but she has other advocacies that are just as important. Two sectors whose well-being she has fought for are senior citizens and teachers. She has expressed delight over the Departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry’s implementing of the five percent discount on at least 20 more basic commodities purchased by senior citizens.

 Loren, principal author of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, said this development gives senior citizens discounts on a wider range of basic commodities — which now include fresh fruits, flour, certain dairy products, geriatric diapers, herbicides, and certain construction materials, among others. As of now, senior citizens get discounts on medicines (if they have doctors’ prescriptions), restaurant meals; airplane, MRT, LRT and bus fares and movie tickets. But with the additional exemptions their peso can go a long way and afford them other amenities.

“Our senior citizens deserve to enjoy a full and happy life. Thus, we want to provide them with special discounts and privileges on their purchases to the furthest extent that could possibly be allowed,” Loren said.

In addition to these benefits, the senator wants senior citizens to be represented in local legislation and special bodies in all local government units (LGUs). Her proposed measure, Senate Bill 1418, seeks to provide representation of the elderly in every Sanggunian and local special bodies in all LGUs.

“It is not enough that we make laws and policies for the elderly. What we must do is to allow them active participation in nation-building, particularly in policy-making and local legislation, so that they themselves can push for the institutionalization of programs that would address their special needs and concerns,” Legarda said.

Under the bill, all Sangguniang Barangay, Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod and Sangguniang Panlalawigan shall reserve a seat for a senior citizens’ representative who shall enjoy all the privileges and emoluments enjoyed by regular members of the Sanggunian.

In electing a representative, the senior citizens shall organize themselves and elect from among them a chairperson who will represent them in the local legislative bodies.

“We recognize the rights of senior citizens, which is why we want not only to provide them with their special needs, but also to support and encourage their full participation in society,” Loren said.

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Former journalist Armand Dean Nocum nearly died of heart attack two months ago. 

Last August 18, he was diagnosed to have five of his heart veins blocked by up to 99 percent. Foreseeing an impending heart attack or fatal stroke, doctors at the Saint Luke’s Medical Center immediately performed angioplasty on him and inserted six stents to open up his blocked veins.

 In his e-mail to friends, Norman says he continues to live “perhaps to complete some unfinished work. The operation was successful and thanks to the miracles of high-tech medical science, I am recovering fast physically. However, the experience has left me greatly shaken. All thoughts of power, invincibility and longevity had vanished. Today I am living from day to day, thankful for each sunrise and sunset.”

Living each “bonus” day not limping, going around in wheelchair or lying like a vegetable in bed, he strives “to live each day in fulfillment of an unfinished business for which God gave me another chance to live a normal and fully functional life.”

As I wrote in this column, Armand and his wife embarked on the notable project called Books For Guns/A-Book-Saya Group, which consists of a library where children can spend time reading books. The kids develop a love for reading, and consequently, learn about peace.

Norman, the project co-administrator, says his greatest desire is to complete the two-story Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) peace library that many of his friends have helped build in a known jump-off point of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Barangay Manicahan, Zamboanga City.

Since its completion in April 2009, the Kris library serves a good number of school kids who visit the library to read, do research, hold catch-up reading lessons; and have free use of the computers to augment their computer lessons in about 10 public schools. Most of the rural schools serviced by the Kris Library can only offer cardboard computers or drawings as aid for basic computer lessons.

However, says Norman, the Kris library today has no restroom. “While we cannot stop the boys from answering nature’s call in the woods behind the library, we fear about the health problems this matter will bring to other kids visiting the library. We also pity the little girls who have to agonize holding forth their bladder to complete hours of research and the walk through miles of rice paddies before finding relief at home.”

 As the usefulness of the library grows, there is need to finally complete the second floor of the library to provide space for more donated computers which will be sent to the library in December.

 Norman is asking individuals and corporations “who share our dream to show poor children in war-torn and troubled areas in Mindanao that there is hope in education and that they have other options than to lead the life of rebels and terrorists lived by their elders and kin.”

Donors may call (02) 7030040 or e-mail zamboyo66@yahoo.com, armand-dean@deanandkingspr.com for details. Donors may also inquire about the project in Facebook by typing Books For Guns or A-Book-Saya Group. Donations may also be brought to the Nocums’ office at Dean & Kings Legal PR Firm, Suite 300, Kimvi Building, 1191 Maria Orosa Street, Ermita, Manila.

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The American Studies Association of the Philippines (ASAP in cooperation with the Department of Political Science of Ateneo de Manila University), will hold a conference entitled, “American Studies in the Philippines Through Interdisciplinary Lenses” on November 13 at the Escaler Hall, SEC Bldg., Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

The conference theme will revolve around emergent issues in American studies such as identity politics, political discourses, economics of everyday lives, and how such areas of inquiry could reinvigorate teaching and research on American studies in the Philippines. Integral to the conference is to highlight the use of interdisciplinary approaches in exploring the aforementioned issues.

For more information call 4266001, extension 5252.

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My e-mail:dominimt2000@yahoo.com

A-BOOK-SAYA GROUP ABU SAYYAF GROUP AMERICAN STUDIES BOOKS FOR GUNS CITIZENS LIBRARY MANILA UNIVERSITY SENIOR
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