Press Release
April 6, 2010

Legarda: Does gov't really care for the elderly?

Is the national government truly for the welfare of the senior citizens?

NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential bet Loren Legarda is asking this question because the government appears reluctant to implement the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (RA 9994) which will grant the elderly an exemption from the value-added tax in the purchase of goods and services, among other things.

The original law for benefit of senior citizens (RA 7432) granted Filipinos who are 60 years old or older a 20 percent discount, but this was reduced effectively to eight percent with the enactment of expanded value-added tax of 12 percent.

Legarda, co-author of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, noted that the pending law was signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last Feb. 15, providing for the drafting of its implementing rules in 60 days.

The champion of women rights noted that the legislation was signed into law only after senior citizens, pressing for its enactment, repeatedly held rallies near Malacanang in Mendiola, Manila.

She said the law cannot yet be enforced, despite the growing clamor from the senior citizens, because the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and other concerned agencies have not yet drafted the implementing rules.

Legarda said government agencies must be taking their own sweet time for lack of concern for the immediate needs of the elderly or they must be deliberately delaying the implementation of the law to minimize revenue loss.

"For all we know some of our senior citizens might be dying because they cannot afford urgent basic necessities like medicines because the law cannot yet be implemented," she said. "Is this government heartless?"

Legarda said she is inclined to join senior citizens who are threatening to hold mass protest to press for the early issuance of the implementing rules, stressing that the government is courting mass dissatisfaction for its apparent lack of concern.

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