Senator lauds Malacañang's 'change of heart' on Expanded Senior Citizens Act

Posted at 01/30/10 2:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A senator on Saturday lauded Malacañang for its "change of heart" toward the signing of the proposed Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

"It's good that they have realized how the social gains and direct benefits of this measure to our elderly far outweigh government's anticipated income revenue loses," Sen. Pia Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano said she is elated over Malacañang's "apparent change of heart." There were reports that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had planned to veto the bill due to an estimate that the expanded senior citizen law would cut the government's projected annual revenues from value-added tax by P54.4 million.

In a separate statement, Sen. Manny Villar said Malacañang might suffer another backlash from the public if the proposed measure, which would benefit more than 4 million senior citizens, is vetoed by the President.

"The Senior Citizens Bill has been widely anticipated by our people, particularly the elderly and their families. That is why we prioritized this bill in the Senate," Villar said in a statement.

Malacañang had assured in a statement on Friday that Mrs. Arroyo will sign it into law next week as an "early Valentine's gift to senior citizens."

The law would allow senior citizens to fully enjoy the 20 percent discount on the purchase of essential goods and services as provided for them by the existing Senior Citizens Act.

Senior citizens were deprived of the full discount because they are not exempted from the 12-percent value-added tax.

The measure covers senior citizens' usual spending on medical fees, transportation fees, hotel room and lodging fees, admission fees in cinema houses, and funeral and burial services.

The bill also proposes a monthly allowance of P1,500 for indigent senior citizens to be identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Local governments will also be ordered to prioritize elderly people for assistance during calamities, disasters and even during economic recession.