Sen. Grace Poe has filed a measure seeking to mandate the reservation and designation of priority seating for the elderly in public transportation to give them better access, safety and comfort.
In filing Senate Bill No. 1367 that proposes to amend certain provisions of Republic Act No. 7432, as amended, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, Poe wants to cover jeepneys, buses, rail services and commercial air and sea transport.
“Nararapat lamang na bigyang prayoridad ang kapakanan ng mga nakatatanda sa mga pampublikong transportasyon sapagkat hindi biro ang kalagayan nila at kadalasan sila ay may iniindang sakit o madaling mapagod. Unahin natin sila,” said Poe.
Poe added that such positive cultural norm among many Filipinos in giving up their seats to the elderly must be institutionalized.
Batas Pambansa 344 or the Accessibility Law mandates that posters or stickers shall be used on public transport to generate awareness of the rights and needs of persons with disabilities (PWDs), which includes the marking of priority seats for PWDs. This was absent in the Expanded Senior Citizens Law, despite having been amended several times.
“In fact, the latest iteration of the law under RA 9994 merely states that the Department of Transportation shall develop a program to assist senior citizens to fully gain access to public transport facilities,” Poe said, referring to the law that amended the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.
Poe said that although there are currently reserved seats for the elderly in land transportation, there are “no hard rules” mandating the designation of priority seating for them in air and sea transport.
If enacted, it ensures that the seats closest to the entrance doors will be reserved for the elderly and they cannot be transferred to other seats on commercial air and sea transport without one week of prior notice.