Press Release
January 10, 2021

De Lima files bill to expand elderly discounts on medicines, supplements

Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a measure mandating establishments, drug stores and merchants to expand discounts for senior citizens.

De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1973 expanding the grant of 20% discount and exemption from the Value Added Tax (TAX) of senior citizens to include medicines, supplements, vitamins, herbal products and formulated milk duly prescribed or recommended by physicians.

In filing the measure last Jan. 7, De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, underscored the need to address the urgent and persistent demand of Filipino elderlies, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our senior citizens have contributed immensely to the growth and progress of the country. As they reach the twilight of their lives, it is our responsibility as a society to ensure their rights and privileges, and that proper accommodation and care are given to them," De Lima said.

Republic Act No. 9994, or the "Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010," the most recent version of the Senior Citizens Act, defined and granted discounts on essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment, but glaringly failed to define the term "medicines."

The failure to define said term, De Lima stressed, has been used by businesses as an excuse to refuse to fully or adequately honor the privileges of the elderly.

"In refusing to honor the discounts and exemptions, merchants have cited the lack of specific provisions in the law that identify which privileges can be granted when making such purchases," De Lima noted.

To cure the gap in the law, SB No. 1973 defines the term "medicine" as "prescription and non-prescription/over-the-counter drugs, both generic and branded, duly prescribed by physicians, and approved by the department of health (DOH) and the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), which are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of human disease."

De Lima's bill, to be known as "Abot-Kayang Gamot, Bitamina at Gatas Para sa Malusog na Senior Citizens Act," likewise aims to grant discounts on supplements, vitamins, herbal products and formulated milk when prescribed by a physician.

"It is this representation's humble belief that aside from keeping senior citizens in their homes as we wait out the roll-out of a vaccination program in our country, the best and most effective way of protecting them is to strengthen their immune system so that they would not so easily fall prey to viruses, diseases and infections," the Senator said.

"By strengthening their immune system through medicines, supplements, vitamins, herbal products and formulated milk, we will not only be protecting them from a present virus, but from all other viruses which could potentially harm them and cost them their life," she added.

Last year, De Lima filed SB No. 1641 seeking to provide free immunizations which are deemed necessary to maintain the quality of life of senior citizens.

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