PALACE URGED Sign ratified senior citizen’s act into law
Posted February 1, 2010on:
By Anna Valmero
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 12:20:00 02/01/2010
Filed Under: Senior Citizens, Laws, Government, State Budget & Taxes
MANILA, Philippines—About 1,000 senior citizens aged between 60 and 70 years old marched from Morayta to Mendiola Monday to urge the Palace to sign into law the Congress-ratified Expanded Senior Citizens’ Act.
Shouting “Tatanda rin kayo (You will also grow old)” and “GMA, senior citizen ka rin (You’re also a senior citizen),” members of the Coalition of Services for the Elderly (Cose) and Confederation of Older Person Association of the Philippines (Copap), slammed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as she continued to waver in signing the bill.
Senior Citizen party-list Representative Godofredo Arquiza said Filipino senior citizens have fought for seven years for the passage of the bill that would entitle indigent or non-pensioner senior citizens to a social monthly pension of P500; free medical insurance and disability assistance through PhilHealth including free provision of anti-flu and anti-pneumonia vaccines; and burial assistance of P2,000.
The act also exempts senior citizens from the 12-percent expanded value added tax in the purchase of medicines and other consumer services, the official added. He explained that senior citizens have only been able to enjoy 8 percent of the supposed 20-percent discounts on medicines and other services because of the 12 percent VAT added on commodity prices.
“The senior citizens demand that the measure be made into law and implemented immediately, this is not only for the benefit of the elderly but the nation as well. However, we fear that other interest groups would influence the signing of the bill such that they would slash these benefits because they believe the funding needed for it conflicts with our national economic interest,” said Arquiza.
“But that should not be the case because the funding for this benefits is a small price to pay in exchange for the welfare of the elderly who contributed to the society and the economy,” he added.
The Department of Finance estimated P54.4 million in foregone revenues for the first year of the measure’s implementation, allegedly causing the president to “dilly-dally in signing the measure,” said Von Mesina, facilitator of Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP).
“Both houses of Congress have already extended the support for the elderly people and we could not understand why the Palace is delaying the signing of the measure, with Palace spokesman Gary Olivar even saying that the President may veto the measure,” said Mesina.
“Social pension and assistance is a right of our elderly, not a privilege for the few. We should note that 70-percent of the labor force driving our economy is from the informal sector and they are also entitled to these benefits for rendering years of service in the country,” said Mesina.
Since the Senior Citizens party-list was proclaimed and sworn into office April last year, Arquiza noted that over 36 House bills for the elderly have not been discussed perhaps as there was no committee for senior citizens to push for the sector’s rights.
The elderly, with a voters’ base of 7.5 million, could be a “king-maker” in the May general elections. However, politicians should refrain from grabbing credit away from the elderly for the passage of the senior citizens’ act to fuel their electoral campaign, said Mesina.