The Philippines enacted a law expanding the rights of its senior citizens. This article discusses its more important provisions.
One of the things that I am proud about being Filipino is the importance that we give to our elderly. I get sad when I travel abroad and see how their senior citizens are left in a retirement home. That concept is alien in our country and our elderly parents usually live with or at least near their children when they retire, and we look at it as returning the care that we received growing up. However, despite the importance we put on our elderly, the law has not caught on. A law protecting senior citizens was enacted before, but it had little or virtually no teeth at all. Just last year, Congress finally passed Republic Act No. 9994 known as The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Whereas before the discount afforded to senior citizens for their purchases was whittled down to about 8% because of the 12% value-added tax, R.A. No. 9994 expressly mandated that senior citizens are exempt from VAT. As a result, they can take advantage of the full 20% discount given to them. My mother, a senior citizen is happy because that translates to a huge savings for her which she uses to buy other things. But note that the exemption applies only to the senior citizen, that is, if you are eating in a restaurant, the 20% is applied only to the food consumed by the senior citizen.
Another important provision is the addition of vitamins and minerals to the medicines that can be subjected to the discount. This actually makes sense because a lot of the elderly take a lot of vitamins and minerals as part of their regimen. But this has to be medically prescribed by the physician. In addition, geriatric equipments such as eyeglasses and hearing aids are also covered now. This privilege applies even if the senior citizen uses a credit card in paying. It used to exasperate me when a establishment would get around the law by posting a sign that only cash payment will get the discount.
The law also provides that indigent senior citizens will get a social pension of Php500 or about US$10. This may not be much but still it can help a little to those who really need it. The DSWD is finalizing the implementing rules for this, but the fact that Congress is willing to give the aid is a step in the right direction. In the future, I hope that the benefit will be extended to all senior citizens regardless of income. They have worked hard so that we can have the kind of life that we have now, and it is fitting that we thank them adequately.