Issue of September 1, 2019
     
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More IEC needed for Sr citizens’ benefits
by Joseph B. Zambrano / PIA

Laws that provide benefits and privileges to senior citizens have long been passed and implemented yet there are still some who do not know the scope of discounts on certain items and services.

This was brought up up during the consultation led by the Regional Inter-agency Committee of Senior Citizens (RIASC), Regional Coordinating and Monitoring Board (RCMB) and the Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (RFSCAP), together with the Regional Federation of Senior Citizens Association of the Philippines (RFSCAP).

Edita Ibarra, a senior citizen leader in Baguio City, is pushing for a continuous information education campaign on the laws for senior citizens so that they could fully enjoy their benefits or privileges.

Under Republic Act 9994 or that grants additional benefits to senior citizens, elders are entitled to 20 percent discount and exemption from value-added tax on certain goods and services for their exclusive use.

Among these are the  purchase of medicines and  essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment;  professional fees of attending physicians and licensed  health workers as well as on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services.

They are also entitled to 20 percent discount on fare for land (jeepneys, buses, taxis, shuttle services, MRT, LRT, PNR,) sea shipping vessel and domestic transport services.

Many elders also do not know that the 20 percent discount also applies to taxis.

This also applies on bills on restaurants, hotels, and similar lodging establishments, and recreation centers.

Senior citizens should be reminded though that the discount only applies to them, and not to their companion/s.

Also subject to the 20 percent discount are admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, leisure, and amusement.

In some areas, senior citizens can watch movies for free.

When they die, there is discount for their funeral and burial services.

The law also provides a five percent discount on water and electric bills registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein, and provided that the monthly consumption does not exceed 100 kilowatt hours of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water: 

Seniors can also get a five percent discount without VAT exemption on certain groceries listed by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture.

For groceries worth up to P1,300 per week, they can enjoy percent off the retail prices of at least four kinds of  the following basic necessities and prime commodities: Rice, bread, and corn, chicken, beef, and pork, fresh eggs; coffee, creamer, and sugar; fresh fruits and vegetables; garlic and onions; cooking oil and salt; noodles, canned sardines, and canned tuna; fresh milk and other dairy products; detergents; electrical supplies, light bulbs, and batteries and geriatric diapers.

Senior citizens though cannot avail of this special discount in sari-sari stores, cooperative stores, and wet markets.  

Senior citizens also have mandatory PhilHealth coverage. When confined in private hospitals, they can avail of PhilHealth benefits in addition to the 20 percent discount and VAT exemption.  In government hospitals, the no balance billing policy applies.

To augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs, the government also provides monthly social pension amounting to P500 to indigent senior citizens.

Another privilege of senior citizens is the provision of express lanes for them in all commercial and government establishments.

For senior citizens to enjoy these benefits and privileges, they must present their senior citizen ID issued by the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs. They may present their government-issued ID that shows their age in the absence of senior citizen ID but not all establishments honor this. That is why it is  very important  to  apply for  their senior citizens ID at the OSCA or the  Department of Social Welfare and Development in  the respective  city, province, or town where they reside. 

Weak or bedridden senior citizens can still avail of the discount especially in the purchase of their medicines and groceries. They only have to make and sign  an authorization  letter  for their  duly authorized representatives,  who will present  it along with  the senior citizens’ ID,  OSCA purchase booklet and  their  own  government-issued ID when paying  for the purchases.

Recently, PhilHealth-Cordillera and its partners launched a handbook that aims to improve the health-seeking behavior of senior citizens in the region. Called “My Personal Health Handbook-the Cordillera Senior Citizen Booklet,” it aims to  record medical findings, availment of health services on outpatient and in-patient basis in different health facilities and document all benefits availed by the senior citizens and their qualified dependents.


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