Age of statutory senility | Inquirer Business
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Age of statutory senility

The proposal of the government’s economic managers to overhaul the current pension system for military and other uniformed personnel (MUP) has drawn attention to the retirement program for other government employees.

Unlike the pension plans of the Government Service Insurance System and the Social Security System for government and private employees, respectively, which are funded by contributions from their members, the MUP’s is fully funded by the government.

A side issue that has come up in the discussions is the different ages of compulsory retirement from government service which affect the start and amount of the pension.


Under a recently enacted law, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are obliged to call it quits when they reach age 57. For the rest of the uniformed personnel, it’s 56.


But for all other government employees, except the Supreme Court justices and judges of lower courts, 65 is the mandatory retirement age.

By constitutional provision, the members of the judiciary are required to hang up their robes at age 70, or five years later than their counterparts in most government offices.


The preferential treatment is a carryover from the 1935 Constitution and the 1973 Constitution of the martial law years. In both instances, the majority of the people who drafted them were lawyers. They sure knew how to take care of their brethren.

With regard to the private sector, the Labor Code provides that the retirement of employees shall be governed by their employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.

If there are no such agreements, the compulsory retirement age is, like the majority of government personnel, 65.

Mandatory retirement is based on the assumption that when a person reaches a certain advanced age (or to use a politically acceptable term, becomes chronologically challenged), his or her level of physical or mental capacity has diminished and is therefore no longer able to efficiently meet the requirements of his or her job.

Or to put it bluntly, it’s time for them to leave the workplace because they have reached what some irreverent wags call their “age of statutory senility.”

In recent years, the adoption of compulsory retirement policies has drawn numerous complaints about “ageism” or discrimination in employment opportunities or benefits due to age.

Meaning, all things fair and equal, when employers have to choose among job applicants of different ages, they often give priority or preferential treatment to the younger ones.

There is no question that ageism, like all other forms of discrimination that is based on, among others, gender, sexual orientation, nationality and physical appearance, is unacceptable in a well-ordered society.

But it cannot be denied that a person’s physical, mental and emotional disposition changes (or suffers some degree of deterioration) as he or she ages and adversely affects his or her work performance.

Thus, for example, an employer cannot be faulted for retiring a 65-year-old employee who no longer has the strength to do his or her previously assigned manual tasks.

Neither is it reasonable for a company engaged in IT (intellectual technology)—related business to keep in its employ a chronologically challenged employee who is unable to understand or cope with the nuances of digital technology.

Besides, mandatory retirement provides the opportunity for other staff members to be promoted or go up the corporate ladder and, in the process, contribute new ideas in the operation of the business. New blood, so to speak, is essential in any business.

It is common knowledge in the business community that when young talented employees (in particular, millennials and Gen Z members) think there is no room at the top, they would have no qualms about quitting and going to where the grass appears to be greener.

Although it had been said that age is just a number, it is more than that if it makes the difference between continued employment and forced cessation of work. INQ

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