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Bill Imposing Stiff Penalties on Violence 
vs Elderly Pushed

 

The Manila Bulletin


January 24, 2010

 

Philippines

 

A bill seeking to impose stiffer penalties on physical and emotional violence against the elderly has been getting strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.

However, unless placed by the House leadership in the list of priorities, hopes of having the bill passed before Congress adjourns session for the May 10 elections appeared nil.

Senior Citizens party-list Rep. Godofredo Arquiza filed House Bill No. 7107 only last week, with the Lower House set to adjourn in three weeks.

HB 7107 proposes special protection for senior citizens who are sometimes subjected to emotional and physical abuses even by members of their immediate families or caregivers.

“Laws have been passed to provide special protection to women and children but no law has been passed to provide senior citizens and the elderly in all forms of violence, abuse, neglect cruelty and other conditions prejudicial to their development,” explained Arquiza.

Arquiza, who also authored the bill granting additional privileges for the elderly, said it is the duty of the state to enact measures that would “promote human dignity and safeguard the rights of senior citizens.

“It is about time that we provide sanctions for the commission of these unlawful acts and carry out a program for prevention and deterrence in situations of these nature,” said Arquiza.

He added: “Every effort shall be exerted to protect the welfare of the elderly so they may live peacefully in the remaining years of their life.”

Under the bill acts of violence against senior citizens refer to those committed by persons within or outside the home, which may result in physical and psychological harm. These acts include economic abuse, threats, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

It will be a crime to subject the elderly to acts of psychological violence such as those that cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as intimidation, harassment, stalking and damage to property.

Subjecting the victim to public ridicule or humiliation or repeated verbal abuse are also considered psychological violence.

Also prohibited are acts of economic abuse such as attempting or making a senior citizen financially dependent by depriving or withdrawing financial support. Controlling the senior citizen’s own money or properties is also considered an offense.

Arquiza said imposable penalties were increased by a degree higher than punishment for the same offenses committed against ordinary persons.

Thus, the bill penalizes slight physical injuries against an elderly for one to six months imprisonment while less serious physical injuries imposes six months to six years prison term.

Under the Revised Penal Code slight and less serious physical injuries are punished with maximum of 30 days to six months imprisonment, respectively.

For depriving freedom of movement or intimidating an elderly of physical harm, the offender faces a maximum six years in prison.

Other forms of deprivation penalized under the bill are those barring the victim from seeing any immediate member of the family, threatening to deprive the elderly of financial support and legal right.

The bill also prohibits preventing a senior citizens from engaging in any legitimate profession or business.

“Any person who shall harass or cause fear of imminent physical harm or mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule and humiliation to senior citizen and elderly, but not limited to repeated verbal and emotional abuse, will also be imprisoned for a maximum period of six years. A maximum fine of P300,000 may also be added to the penalty,” said Arquiza.

Under the bill the barangay or court may issue temporary prevention orders removing the respondent from the residence of the victim and stopping him from further threatening, harassing or putting the elderly in danger.


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