By Billy Begas
Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte and two other lawmakers have jointly filed a measure seeking to jail individuals who are guilty of exploiting, neglecting, or abusing the elderly.
“Elderly citizens, like our lolos and lolas, should be honored, cared for, and respected,” Duterte said. “Unfortunately, many of our senior citizens still suffer abuse and most of the time, even from the very people who are supposed to care for them, as shown by news reports and reliable posts on social media. Worse, many cases of elder abuse go unreported and unpunished. Our bill aims to prevent these.”
Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Edvic Yap introduced the proposed Anti-Elder Abuse Act (House Bill 4696).
Under the measure, senior citizen help desks will be established in every barangay to provide immediate assistance to victim-survivors of elder abuse.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is also mandated to set up special prosecution units to exclusively handle cases of violence against senior citizens.
According to the bill, acts of violence against senior citizens include “physical abuse or infliction of pain or injury with the use of physical force resulting in bodily injury, physical harm, pain or impairment, suffering or distress; and psychological, mental or emotional abuse causing mental or emotional suffering or distress.”
Material exploitation through illegal or improper use of funds or resources of the senior citizen and economic or financial abuse through acts that make the senior citizen financially dependent are also classified as acts of violence against the elderly.
Abandonment or desertion by a person who has custody or has assumed responsibility for caring for a senior citizen will also be considered an act of violence.
“Elder abuse does not only cover the intentional act, but also the failure to act on the needs of the elderly,” the authors said in the bill. “This measure seeks to ensure that our senior citizens are given protection from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation, and coercion, especially acts detrimental to their personal safety and security.”
Individuals guilty of acts of violence against the elderly resulting in slight physical injuries shall be meted with 1 to 6 months imprisonment.
Persons found guilty of serious physical injuries against the elderly will be punished with six to 12 years imprisonment,
Acts of violence against the elderly constituting attempted, frustrated, or consummated parricide, murder, or homicide, and those resulting in mutilation shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
All other acts of violence against the elderly are punishable by six months to six years and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P300,000.
The measure also mandates persons found guilty of any act of violence against the elderly to undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and shall report their compliance to the court.