ZAMBOANGA City first district Congressman Celso Lobregat, seeing the welfare of the elderly in the city and the country in general, supports the passage of House Bill (HB) 534, which intends to provide additional benefits and privileges to the members of the sector.
The passage of HB 534 will amend Republic Act (RA) 7432 entitled “An Act to maximize the contribution of senior citizens to nation-building, grant benefits and special privileges and for other purposes.”
Lobregat said HB 534 seeks to provide additional benefits to senior citizens by granting discounted payments on court fees, legal services and attorneys’ fees in criminal, civil and administrative cases.
Lobregat cited Article 15, Section of the Constitution which states that “the family has the duty to care for its elderly members but the State may also do so through just programs of social security” as the basis in pushing for the passage of HB 534.
It is further reiterated in Article 8, Section 11 of the Constitution that “there shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women, and children.”
Under RA 9994, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, a 20 percent discount and exemption from the value added tax (VAT), if applicable, on goods and services from all establishments, are given to senior citizens.
It provides for discounts on the professional fees of attending physicians in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services, among others.
Senior citizens are also given government assistance in employment, education, health, social services, housing and foster care. They are also granted social pension, mandatory Philhealth coverage and other social safety nets.
Lobregat said there seems to be something lacking as far as addressing their legal needs in cases wherein they are involved in disputes, subjected to fraud, suffered ill-treatment, and similar cases although RA 9994 and RA 7432 give the senior citizens indispensable benefits to allow them to enjoy their twilight years.
“The elderly deserves to avail of the services of a lawyer of their preference, aside from those offered for free by public attorneys,” Lobregat, a co-author of HB 534 said.
“As the co-author of the bill, giving the highest priority to the elderly to live their lives to the fullest in comfort and worry-free environment is necessary and that’s why I am fully supporting the passage of this bill (HB 534) in congress,” he added.