MANILA — Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and two other lawmakers have filed a measure that seeks to throw in jail persons found guilty of exploiting, neglecting, or abusing the elderly.
In filing House Bill (HB) 4696, Duterte, Benguet Rep. Eric Yap, and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Edvic Yap also sought the establishment of senior citizen help desks in every barangay to provide immediate assistance to victim-survivors of elder abuse.
HB 4696 or the proposed Anti-Elder Abuse Act also directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to set up special prosecution units to exclusively handle cases of violence against senior citizens.
“Elderly citizens, like our lolos and lolas, should be honored, cared for, and respected. Unfortunately, many of our senior citizens still suffer abuse, 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 said.
Under the measure, 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.
Another act of violence under the bill is abandonment or desertion by a person who has custody or has assumed responsibility for caring for a senior citizen.
“Elder abuse does not only cover the intentional act, but also the failure to act on the needs of the elderly,” the bill’s authors said.
“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,” they added.
The minimum punishment under the bill is arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months) for acts of violence against the elderly resulting in slight physical injuries.
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,” according to the bill.
Persons found guilty of serious physical injuries against the elderly are punished with the penalty of prison mayor (6 years and 1 day to 6 years). Less physical injuries are punishable by prison correccional (6< months and 1 day to 6 years), the bill states.
All other acts of violence against the elderly are punishable by prison correccional and a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P300,000.
The measure also requires 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.
A respondent to a complaint against elder abuse will also be placed under a hold departure order to be issued by the courts, according to HB 4696.
Law enforcers, barangay officials, and persons who fail to report acts of violence against the elderly are also penalized under the bill.
Under the bill, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is mandated to provide senior citizens who are victims of abuse safe shelter; counseling, healing and recovery and rehabilitation services; and other programs to ensure their personal security and safety. The Department of Health (DOH) shall also provide medical aid to the victims.
Victims of elder abuse may also file protection orders against their offenders under the bill.