June 20, 2024

The Baguio City Council has approved on second reading a proposed ordinance exempting senior citizens in the city from the number coding scheme.

The proposed ordinance seeks to amend the Number Coding Scheme, extending exemptions to vehicles transporting senior citizens who are residents of Baguio City, whether as drivers or passengers.

These exemptions would apply specifically to trips to and from medical clinics, hospitals, or places of work.

During the deliberation, Councilor Benny Bomogao requested clarification whether a study had been conducted to determine the number of senior citizens driving in the city and if there had been a recommendation for the Traffic and Transportation Management Division.

Bomogao questioned the relevance of exempting senior citizens from the number coding scheme, claiming it might defeat the purpose of reducing traffic in the central business district.

He said exempting senior citizens could lead to demands for exemptions from other groups. He stressed the need for a policy applicable to all in order to minimize traffic congestion.

Councilor Jose Molintas, author of the ordinance, said senior citizens deserve special privileges and that number coding exemption could cover emergencies and work-related travel.

He said the elders need to navigate around the CBD for various reasons including medical appointments.

“This benefit will not be abused because it’s specifically for emergencies and commuting to and from work. In the CBD, there are numerous hospitals and clinics with doctors available. Patients often undergo multiple examinations, which we need to take into account. Imagine being in an emergency situation and still having to worry about number coding,” Molintas said.

He added this privilege is especially important because many senior citizens are still required to work despite their age and may struggle to commute due to the number coding restriction.

Councilor Peter Fianza said the constitution mandates the prioritization of elderly citizens.

He referenced the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 which provides additional privileges.

He said giving senior citizens more benefits such as exemptions from the number coding scheme is a small gesture compared to what other local government units provide like regular allowances and medical aid.

Towards the end of the discussion, Bomogao cited data from 2015 showing the number of senior citizens with vehicles is likely small and their exemption from the coding scheme may not significantly affect traffic. – Jordan G. Habbiling