Happy to be senior in Cebu City!

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas (The Freeman) - December 9, 2015 - 9:00am

Worried about getting older? Why?

Growing old is a privilege not given to all. It is an added bonus to grow old in the midst of those whom you truly care for and with those who truly care for you as well.

Seniors and other vulnerable sectors in Cebu City are very grateful to have Councilor Alvin Dizon who continues to show his genuine concern for them through helpful ordinances and continuing monitoring of the implementation of these ordinances.

Recently, he called attention to violators of the amended Republic Act 9994, "an act granting additional benefits and privileges to senior citizens, an act to maximize the contribution of senior citizens to nation building."

Let us review and provide some comments/ notes (in bold italics) about this Act.

Under RA 9994, the following are the benefits and privileges for senior citizens: 1) free medical and dental, diagnostic and laboratory services in all government facilities; 2) discount (20 % ) in purchase of medicines; 3) discount (20%) in hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, etc ( Note: the etc portion needs to be more definitively specified);  4) discount ( 20%) in theaters, cinema houses and concert hall etc (( Note: the etc portion needs to be more definitively specified); 5) discount (20%) on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in private facilities; 6) discount (20%) in fare for domestic air, sea travel and public land transportation; 7) discount (5%) on basic necessities and prime commodities (Note: this provision seems to be very often violated); 8) a 12% VAT exemption on the purchase of goods and services entitled to grant of 20 percent discount ( Note: this provision needs to be made clearer and its implementation monitored as well); 9) discount (20%) on burial services; and, 10) discount (5%) for the monthly utilization of water and electricity provided that the water and electricity meter bases are under the name of the senior citizen, provided that the monthly consumption does not exceed 100 kilowatt hours (100kwh) of electricity and thirty (30) cubic meters of water.

In cases where the senior citizen is also a person with disability (PWD), the senior is entitled to a 5 per cent discount as PWD. (Note: this particular provision is unclear whether the senior citizen who is a PWD can avail of either just one or both of discount privileges for seniors and for PWDs).

A special express lane for seniors must be provided to senior citizens or in the absence thereof, priority shall be given to them.

A very happy bonus provided by Councilor Dizon's ordinance allows free 3-hour parking privilege for senior citizens in major establishments in the city. Thank you, Councilor Alvin , for always prioritizing our concerns , along with the rest of the vulnerable groups in this city!

In behalf of the senior citizens in Cebu City, we would like to thank all participating establishments who have generously complied with this Act and have made senior life in this city so much more fun and enjoyable. Your generosity continues to make us feel very special! May your businesses prosper even more!

To those who resent this Act and have remained uncooperative, we offer you our prayers that your generosity and concern for others, especially the vulnerable groups, will outweigh your priority for profit and business only. To those who also abuse the senior citizen privileges, we pray that you will stop your abusive practices so that those who truly need and deserve these privileges will be assisted by the implementation of this Act.

Still, so much more have to be done to monitor and improve the Act.  A number of establishments still try to maneuver their way to circumvent this Act.  For example, some restaurants will allow for discounts but they will choose to allow the discount on the cheapest items ordered, rather than deducting the discount from the total amount to be paid. Others also do not yet include the VAT exemption discount for the elderly.


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