With the rapidly increasing ageing population in the Philippines, senior citizens have the power to elect the next president of the country.
This was bared over the weekend by University Professor Clarita Carlos during the launching of her pioneering book entitled Population Ageing in the Philippines, Issues and Challenges at The Podium who said that anyone vying for the presidency should tap into the 60 years and old and above age group because they will play a major role in electing the president in the next election.
“The population of the elderly in the Philippines will be more than 10 percent in 2020, thus political leaders should think of reaching out to (them). Not only is this mandated in the Philippine Constitution (under Article XIII) but the number is also significant in electing the next president of this country by 2022,” Carlos said.
She pointed out that the elderly population in the Philippines is increasing faster than the growth of the population. In 2000, there were 4.6 million senior citizens or about 6 percent of the population. In 2010, the number grew to 6 million or 6.9 percent of the population. By 2022, the elderly is expected to be around 12 million which is a significant factor in the election of the leaders at that period.
Carlos further stressed that the older age group enlarged at a faster rate of 3.4 percent per year compared with younger (1.5 percent) and working (2.8 percent) age groups from 1970 to 2010.
The ageing population is a worldwide phenomenon for all countries in the world, except Africa, according to Carlos. The number of older persons is project to grow by 56 percent from 901 million in 2015 to 1.4 billion in 2030. By year 2030, the population of older persons will be more than the number of children aged 0-9 years with 1.4 billion for the former and 1.3 billion for the latter.
“The ageing of our population is unprecedented. A combination of decreasing fertility rates and the increasing life expectancy have produced an ageing population. People are living longer because of advances in medicine, better nutrition, better health care, better education and overall well-being of society,” she said.
It therefore important, she added, that government, private sector and all stakeholders work hand in hand in making sure that the needs and aspirations of older people are met in the light of the various challenges and implications of an ageing population.
“There are profound implications of ageing population,” Carlos said as she noted that the overburdened health care systems in many countries will have to adjust to the needs of older persons. She also cited the consequences in the pension system which countries have to address to prevent deficits, as well as challenges in the labor structure as countries are now passing laws to prolong the age of requirement.
But Carlos said the biggest component to an ageing population is the family. “Older people get much of their strength from their children and members of their family. We should endeavor to make our developments centered on the family and all its members including our parents, the older people. This is the first big step to making sure that older people have happy, decent lives in their twilight years,” she said.
In taking part in the book’s publication, SM Prime President Jeffrey C. Lim explained that SM has always believed in the inclusivity of services that should cater not just to the young but the old as well. “There has been a lot of focus on understanding millennials but very little about Senior Citizens. It is about time that we give attention to our Elders as well. With the ageing population, it has become necessary that we give them respect and dignity to pursue a life of fulfillment in their sunset years,” he said.
For Carlos, she expressed hope that through her book, leaders in both the government and private sectors work hand in hand to address the issues and challenges of the ageing population. “That’s really the intention of this book. To bring to the attention of everybody that the world is ageing except Africa. The issue of an ageing population must be embedded in every social and economic plan of the nation,” she said.