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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Maintenance of Parents

Senator Manuel Lapid recently filed a bill that will enable poor parents to ask the court to require their children to financially support them.  The measure named "Maintenance of Parents Act of 2010" mandates the government to provide legal assistance to the elderly who wants to demand assistance from their relatives.  They will be assisted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in filing the petition and will be provided with legal assistance and representation in court by the Public Attorneys Office.

In the bill's explanatory note, Lapid said that the onset of rapid urbanization and commercialization have brought about factors that contributed to the erosion of Filipino family values.  Incidence of parents being neglected and abandoned by their children have also become common.  

The bill provides that the petition should show that the elderly member is aged, sickly or disable, and incapable of taking care of himself.  In ruling on the petition, the court should also take into account the financial capability of the children and their obligation to maintain their own family.

But seriously, do we really need a bill for this?  Respect for the elderly member of the family is deeply ingrained in the Filipino mind.  

A visiting Irish priest once observed how we treat our elderly.  Old parents are welcomed in every home.  They have special places in the dining table,  Even young kids are trained early to give respect to lolo and lola, and treat them with the way they would treat mommy and daddy.  How he wished that other nations could do the same to their elderly.

Last time I looked, these traits are still being practiced by Filipino families, at least those I know of.  Or  maybe the elderly people Senator Lapid is referring to are those who come from really poor families or those from the rural areas where poverty is prevalent.  But still these families continue to support each other and make adjustments to make their ends meet.

I have observed however that while we Filipinos truly love and respect our older members of our family, many of us do not spread this to those who are not our relatives.  How many times have I seen older men and women standing in public utility vehicles while younger and able-bodied people occupy the seats allotted to them.  I admit that I also tend to be impatient with older people who take a long time in using an ATM or other electronic device.  

Hopefully we as people will continue to respect the elderly and that we will not need a law that would mandate us to be more respectful of older people.

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