A CANDIDATE for senator running under the Nacionalista Party urged senior citizens to take the May elections as an opportunity to lobby for more laws that will benefit their sector.

In a meeting with the chapter presidents of the senior citizens in Cebu yesterday, Sen. Pia Cayetano said the election season is an opportune time for the elderly to demand what is due them.

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“Now is the time oto have dialogues with your candidates and ask them what they will deliver. You must use your strength as an organized sector to demand what is due you,” said Cayetano.

Cayetano said senior citizens should work as one so that their demands will be heard.

“I told them (senior citizens) that they should have a unified voice. They have an engineer, they have a teacher, they have a lot of experts. If they work as one, they will be a force to reckon with,” she said.

Cayetano, who is the principal sponsor of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens’ Act of 2010, said in an interview that she seeks reelection in the May 2010 polls to make sure that the new law will be given the right budget.

“The reason nga mobalik ko is to oversee nga mabutangan siya og budget every year. If di siya maapil, it will be useless. It’s my job to ensure na tuluy-tuloy ang benefits (for the senior citizens),” she said.

RA 9994 exempts senior citizens from paying the 12 percent value-added tax (Evat) and allows them to enjoy a 20 percent discount on the purchase of medicines and on health services.

Under the same law, a 20-percent discount will also be imposed on actual fare for land, air and sea transportation travel, as well as on the use of hotels, restaurants and recreation centers, admission fees in theatres, and on funeral and burial services for senior citizens.

While the law gives the Evat exemption, it also gives a P500 monthly stipend for indigent senior citizens who will be identified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

Labangon Barangay Captain Felix Abella, national president of the Federation of the Senior Citizen Associations of the Philippines, said they are happy with the Evat exemption and will file a case against companies who will violate RA 9994. (PDF)