Legarda: Ensure safe and more comfortable life for our elders

IN celebration of the Elderly Filipino Week, three-term senator, now Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda renewed her call for stronger implementation of Republic Act  9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, which she principally authored.

“I authored the law in the 14th Congress to provide additional benefits and privileges to our Filipino senior citizens as my tribute to our elders who have been and continue to be part of nation-building. To take care of the elderly has been a time-honored practice of Filipinos because the present generation owes a lot to them and their hard work,” Legarda said.

Legarda explained that among the salient provisions of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 are:  the exemption from the value-added tax (VAT) on the sale of goods and services from all establishments and a 20-percent discount on the purchase of medicines, medical and dental services, diagnostics and laboratory fees; actual fares for land transportation, domestic air transport services and sea shipping; utilization of services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers; and, admission fees in theaters concert halls, other similar places of culture, among others.

In addition to the VAT exemption and 20-percent discount, senior citizens who are considered minimum-wage earners shall be given exemption from the payment of individual income tax under the law. Indigent senior citizens identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are also entitled to a monthly stipend amounting to P500 to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs. DOH will also facilitate free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizens and they are automatically covered by PhilHealth benefits. Death benefit assistance of a minimum of P2,000 shall also be given to the nearest surviving relative of a deceased senior citizen.

Another important provision of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act is the activation of a “senior citizens ward” in every government hospital all over the country for the exclusive use of senior citizens who need hospital confinement by reason of their health conditions.

“I am calling on the local government units to monitor and ensure that commercial establishments, hospitals, and other concerned institutions observe the strict implementation of the law and that our senior citizens receive the assistance and incentives that they rightfully deserve. Let us ensure that our senior citizens enjoy safe and comfortable life in their twilight years,” Legarda said.

The three-term senator also shared that senior citizens are still qualified to avail themselves of livelihood programs from the government, such as the DOLE Pangkabuhayan, and the DSWD Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). Aside from livelihood, other government programs that our senior citizens may benefit from are DSWD AICS and DOH MAIP.

“Despite their age, we can still empower and enable our senior citizens by giving them access to government programs and resources for income-generating opportunities for them to uplift their lives and their family,” Legarda said.

“As they are among the vulnerable sectors in our society, I also encourage our senior citizens to receive Covid-19 vaccines with the permission of and in consultation with their personal doctors. Always observe safety health protocols, and stay healthy because senior citizens are more prone to the virus and other health risks,” Legarda added.

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