IN THE COURSE of his presidential campaign last year, former Senator Manny Pacquiao chanced upon 101-year-old Jungle Serrano, an Aeta grandfather who was living miserably at the Katutubo village in Porac, Pampanga.
Having experienced poverty first-hand, the world-renowned pound-for-pound boxer Pacquiao’s heart bleeds for Lolo Jungle, who has six children and 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He had wished that the Republic Act 10868, otherwise known as the Centenarians Act of 2016, be amended to “grant Filipinos who reach 101 years old a cash incentive of P1 million.
Though he lost in the presidential race, Pacquiao’s silent prayer must have been heard when the House of Representatives on Monday, May 8, unanimously approved a bill granting a P1 million cash gift to Filipinos who will reach 101 years old.
With a resounding 257 yes votes and zero no votes, House Bill 7535 was approved on the third and final reading.
HB 7535 aims to amend the Centenarians Act of 2016 which only grants P100,000 cash gifts to Filipinos who reach their 100th birthday.
However, the measure still provides a P100,000 cash gift to each Filipino who will reach 100 years old, but a P25,000 cash grant will also be given to those who will reach the age of 80, 85, 90, and 95.
The bill also states that funding requirements will be provided under the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
It is worth noting that some of the principal authors are Reps. Rodolfo Ordanes, Jude Acidre, Sonny Lagon, Daphne Lagon, Brian Yamsuan, PM Vargas, Toby Tiangco, Salvador Pleyto, Roy Loyola, LRay Villafuerte, Loreto Amante, Jam Baronda, Eric Yap, Edvic Yap, Paolo Duterte, Migs Nograles, Lani Mercado-Revilla, Gus Tambunting, and others.
“With this legislation, the House of Representatives would like to honor our countrymen for their years of service to the country and for their discipline in ensuring that they live a long, healthy, and fruitful life,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said.
The bill tasks the National Commission of Senior Citizens for the implementation of the measure.
Last year, then Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Erwin Tulfo told a House committee hearing that there are 662 Filipino centenarians in the country.
The ball is now on the Senate, the “smaller house” of Congress. (ai/mtvn)