Senator Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. has filed a bill seeking to lower the qualifying age to be legally considered as a senior citizen in the country, from 60 years old down to 56. The veteran lawmaker said that the bill is part of his agenda in championing social justice legislation in the chamber that will benefit many Filipinos, especially “the least, the lost and the last.”
“Simula’t sapul, ang hangarin ko bilang halal na lingkod-bayan ay matulungan at mapagaan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino, lalo na ang mga kabilang sa sektor na madalas ay naisasantabi na lamang. Isa na dito ang ating mga lolo at lola. Silang mga buong buhay na nagsumikap at nagtrabaho para sa kanilang pamilya. Silang mga walang humpay na nagaambag sa paglago ng ekonomiya. Tunay na hindi kailanman matatawaran ang kanilang ambag sa pagsulong ng ating lipunan at bansa”, Revilla said as he highlighted the invaluable contribution of the elderly.
Senate Bill No. 1573 aims to amend Republic Act No. 7432 that defines a senior citizen as any resident citizen of the Philippines at least sixty (60) years old. When enacted, all Filipino resident citizens at least 56 years old shall be considered as a senior citizen, thereby being entitled to the benefits that are due to be granted to them.
“Nararapat lamang na ibaba natin ang edad para maging senior citizen ang ating mga nakakatandang kababayan. Sa panahon ngayon, lalo na at nagkapandemya, madami ang hindi pinalad umabot sa edad na sisenta. Sabi nga e, aanhin pa ang damo kung wala na ang kabayo. Kaya habang may oras pa e bigyang halaga na natin sila sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaabot ng benepisyo. Tandaan natin na ang mga kamay nila ang humubog kung ano man ang magandang tinatamasa natin ngayon,” said the solon.
According to the data provided by the Department of Health on December 2022, 7.33% of COVID-19 cases among Filipino senior citizens resulted in death as compared to 0.76% mortality among those with age 18 to 59 years old.
Under existing laws, senior citizens are entitled to the following: 20% discount and VAT-exemption on medicines, medical supplies and equipment, transportation fares including land and domestic air and sea travel fares, hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, and other places of leisure such as cinemas; income tax exemption for minimum wage earners; minimum of 5% discount on monthly water and electricity bills; exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs; free medical, dental, diagnostic, and laboratory services in all government facilities; provision of express lanes in all commercial and government establishments; and death benefit assistance, among others.
To assure that the elderly will be accorded with more relevant benefits, Revilla also filed Senate Bill No. 1558 that seeks to require establishments to provide priority seating for senior citizens. As provided in the bill, establishments including, but not limited to, restaurants, libraries, recreational centers, and venue halls shall reserve and designate best possible seats and tables to senior citizens.