SENATOR Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. has filed a bill seeking the lowering of qualifying age to be legally considered as senior citizen to 56 from 60.

Revilla filed Senate Bill No. 1573 as part of his agenda in championing social justice legislation in the chamber that will benefit many Filipinos, especially "the least, the lost and the last."

Under the said bill, all Filipino resident citizens at least 56 years old shall be considered as a senior citizen and will be entitled to the benefits entitled to them under Republic Act No. 7432.

"Simula't sapul, ang hangarin ko bilang halal na lingkod-bayan ay matulungan at mapagaan ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino, lalo na ang mga kabilang sa sektor na madalas ay naisasantabi na lamang. Isa na dito ang ating mga lolo at lola. Silang mga buong buhay na nagsumikap at nagtrabaho para sa kanilang pamilya. Silang mga walang humpay na nagaambag sa paglago ng ekonomiya. Tunay na hindi kailanman matatawaran ang kanilang ambag sa pagsulong ng ating lipunan at bansa,” Revilla said.

(From the get go, my desire as an elected public servant is to help and ease the lives of every Filipino, especially those who belong to the sector that is often left aside. Our grandparents are one of them. They are those who worked hard and worked for their family all their lives. They relentlessly contribute to economic growth. Their contribution to the advancement of our society and country will never be underestimated.)

"Nararapat lamang na ibaba natin ang edad para maging senior citizen ang ating mga nakakatandang kababayan. Sa panahon ngayon, lalo na at nagkapandemya, madami ang hindi pinalad umabot sa edad na 60. Sabi nga, e, aanhin pa ang damo kung wala na ang kabayo. Kaya habang may oras pa, e, bigyang halaga na natin sila sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaabot ng benepisyo. Tandaan natin na ang mga kamay nila ang humubog kung ano man ang magandang tinatamasa natin ngayon," he added.

(It is only appropriate that we lower the age so that our elderly can become senior citizens. In today's times, especially with the pandemic, many are not lucky enough to reach the age of 60. It is said that the grass will be harvested if the horse is gone. So while there is still time, let's give them value by extending the benefit. Let's remember that their hands shaped whatever we enjoy today.)

Under existing laws, senior citizens are entitled to the following:

*20 percent discount and VAT (value-added tax) exemption on medicines, medical supplies and equipment, transportation fares including land and domestic air and sea travel fares, hotels, restaurants, recreation centers, and other places of leisure such as cinemas;

*Income tax exemption for minimum wage earners;

*Minimum of five percent discount on monthly water and electricity bills;

*Exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs;

*Free medical, dental, diagnostic, and laboratory services in all government facilities;

*Provision of express lanes in all commercial and government establishments; and death benefit assistance, among others.

Revilla cited data from the Department of Health that showed that as of December 2022, 7.33 percent of Covid-19 cases among Filipino senior citizens resulted in death as compared to 0.76 percent mortality among those aged 18 to 59. (SunStar Philippines)