Lifetime passports for senior citizens: Gov’t’s token of appreciation

DURING a recent forum mounted by the Manila City Hall Reporters’ Association (MACHRA) of which this writer happens to be the President, Manila Rep. Ernix Dionisio (1st district) and Irwin Tieng (5th district) guested and surprised us all with their wonderful bills.

The two told the ‘MACHRA Balitaan’ held at the Harbor View Restaurant in Ermita about their pet bills and projects meant to benefit Manilans primarily, but also the entire nation eventually.

Senior citizens are entitled to a “lifetime” kind of passport based on the bill that he introduced in Congress which was passed and signed by the President.

Rep. Dionisio explained that the ‘lifetime passport’ aims to spare senior citizens from having to go back and forth at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for their new passport.   

The money that will have to be spent on fares and expenses can instead be used by the elderly to augment their funds for medication or maintenance medicines.

Dionisio’s bill covers all Filipinos aged 60 or over, noting that in his district alone, at least 50,000 senior citizens are expected to benefit.

As of this writing, I learned that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is still in the process of coming up with the implementing rules and regulations for the implementation of the said legislation.

Dionisio said the privilege is but a small token of appreciation for the senior citizens who have used the prime of their lives contributing to the progress of the country.

Tieng, meanwhile, filed a bill aimed at protecting the public from scammers and ensuring that the latter face the full force of the law.

His proposal covers particularly the poor, especially those who receive certain allowances or benefits through the banks.

In his bill, Tieng makes sure that the scammers won’t go unpunished. It also gives authority to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to investigate if there are reports that would crop up or the system of the bank detects  any scam or ‘fraudulent transaction.’

Banks are also mandated to have the ‘highest degree of diligence’ and whichever bank or financial institution is found to have a ‘weak’ or faulty system or not compliant with BSP rules, may be obligated to return the money of the affected account holders or owners.

Through an investigation, the scammers will be easily identified and caught immediately especially if the money concerned was coursed through banks or financial intermediaries.

Tieng also has plans to put up a free cancer center in Manila, the first of its kind to ever be put in the capital city.

Through it, cancer patients may avail of free medical services.

He said that Mayor Honey Lacuna immediately allowed a 2,000 square-meter-lot inside the Ospital ng Maynila compound on which to place the planned Manila Cancer Center (MCC).

This project comes as a support to all the projects of Mayor Honey that are meant to help poor residents who are ill but do not have the money to spend on much-needed medical services.

The two, by the way, also vowed to fight gambling via online or text messages.

Dionisio stressed that gambling should be confined to casinos for adults who have money to spare, instead of being made available online where the poor and the young, especially students, are exposed to the tendency of getting hooked and resorting to the extremes, like borrowing from loan sharks or even committing crimes to sustain their vice.

“Gambling should be limited only to those who go to the casinos. Dapat ang sugal hindi accessible lalo na sa mga bata na ipinupusta pati mga baon nila,” Dionisio said, citing the recent case of a policeman who, despite being a member of the law enforcement, himself got hooked on gambling.

For his part, Tieng said he had written a major telecommunications company, asking for an explanation as to why it had been sending text messages to subscribers enticing them to enter into gambling.

Tieng also said he is seeking an answer if said text messages are being sent to all subscribers regardless of whether or not they are minors, noting that one only has to click a link to be able to enter into the world of online gambling.

The two Congressmen also said that POGO’s ban must be formalized and institutionalized by passing a law on its imposition.

According to Dionisio, the harm and negative impact that POGO brings to society far outweigh the benefits, saying there are many other ways to generate funds.

“Dumarami ang corrupt, kokonti ang yumayaman, selective ang nagbe-benefit tapos magtatapon ng konting barya sa komunidad,” he noted.

Similarly, Tieng said that the unruly behavior of those behind POGO operations and the crimes being committed as a result is not worth allowing in the country.

He cited the staggering crimes committed in the country by those involved in POGO operations as exposed by law authorities who run after them.

Dionisio also stressed that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) should do its job of serving merely as a regulatory body and avoid being part of the gambling operations itself. 


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