Bicameral panel OKs Expanded Senior Citizens' bill
Manila (23 January) -- The much-anticipated "Expanded Senior Citizens Act," the proposal that seeks to exempt the elderly from paying the 12 percent value added tax (VAT), is now just a few steps away from becoming a law.
This was announced by Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice and the bill's principal author, after a bicameral conference committee composed of Senate and House members approved the reconciled version of the measure last night.
Aside from Cayetano, the bicameral committee members who worked on the report were Senators Edgardo Angara, author of the original Senior Citizens Act (RA 7342), Loren Legarda and Rodolfo Biazon for the Senate panel.
The House contingent was led by its Chair, Rep. Reynaldo Uy (Western Samar 1D), together with Reps. Eduardo Zialcita (Paranaque, 1D), Abigail Binay (Makati, 2D), Maurico Domogan (Baguio City), Bienvenido Abante Jr. (Manila, 6D) and Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Muntinlupa City).
The bicameral conference committee report is expected to be submitted for ratification by the Senate and House of Representatives next week, after which it will be transmitted to Malacanang for the President's signature.
"This is good news for our senior citizens who have been clamoring for the passage of this measure. By exempting them from the 12 percent VAT, our elderly will now be able to fully avail of the 20 percent senior citizens discount as envisioned for them under the original Senior Citizens Act," Cayetano said.
She explained that the senior citizens discount has been effectively reduced to only eight percent since seniors are also required to pay the 12 percent VAT in their purchase of medicines, good and services.
Aside from VAT exemption, the measure also mandates the Department of Health to provide free vaccination against the influenza virus pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizen patients, and death benefit assistance through the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD).
The bill also mandates the establishment of a "senior citizens ward" in every government hospital and the coverage of indigent senior citizens by the National Health Insurance Program of Philhealth. (Office of Senate Committee) [top]