According to UP professor Clarita Carlos in a 1999 study, 23% of abused senior citizens suffer fraud the most, when compared to cases of verbal and physical abuse or withholding of income.This brings to light the case of Mr. Hiroshi.
Recently, we in PWDPhil has encountered the curious case of a Hiroshi, a 74-year old Japanese national married to a Filipina from Taytay, Rizal. Hiroshi engages in the business of selling Japan surplus items in the province of Rizal. His Filipina wife has been instructing her relatives to actively defraud her husband of the proceeds of the business as she is building a house in Taytay, Rizal using the funds she had siphoned off her husband. While staying the Philippines, Hiroshi was bounced from one unwilling host to another as his wife wanted him away from their home in Japan and away from the house she was building for her family in Taytay.
After two weeks, the Filipina wife had “allowed” Hiroshi to return to Japan, as she had already concluded her business, again without the knowledge of Hiroshi. All the monies used in the business and in building the home in Taytay, as well as supporting the Filipina wife’s family, had come from Hiroshi’s hard-earned savings. He is already a senior citizen and is supposedly retired, but because of the constant “failure” of his ventures, he is unable to go into retirement and continuously needs to remain employed.
The situation of Hiroshi is no strange tale in the Philippines. Many of the senior citizens have been cheated and defrauded of money that they had earned for themselves, mostly by the very people who are tasked to take care of them. Some months ago, I had written about Tonette, a 28-year old Binangonan resident who had bragged about stealing her grandmother’s SSS pension by withholding the ATM and withdrawing the money for her personal use. We in PWDPhil had reported Tonette to the SSS and she has been caught and investigated.
But these stories are not unique to a few individuals. Why do people steal from old people? Withhold their income and even physically or verbally abuse them? The answer may lie in a few things endemic to the Philippine countryside, such as poverty. The poorest of the poor normally do not put moral fiber at the top of their list. Survival is more important. As for the physical and verbal abuse, I surmised that perhaps it is out of guilt. The adverse and sometimes violent reaction to the act of abusing a helpless old lady would most likely be guilt and because the continued presence of the victim may fuel guilt within the abuser, which in turn encourages the abuser to either continue the abuse or up the ante when the opportunity arose.
Just because our elders are helpless it doesn’t mean that they are willing and wanton victims. They are in our care because at one point in time, they took care of us. Let us be kind to them for they have been kind to us during the time when we were the helpless ones. Remember, it is illegal to abuse senior citizen, ridicule them, moreso to steal from them. Let us give our elders the respect they deserve.