By Ben Rosario
Former President and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Tuesday lauded the Senate for adopting the House of Representatives version of a bill proposing the creation of the National Commission on Senior Citizens.
This developed as the Lower House passed on final reading two more bills ensuring legal protection on the welfare of the elderly.
House Bill 7030, or the proposed “Anti-Elderly Abuse Act”, garnered 176 affirmative and zero negative votes during plenary voting on Monday.
The measure seeks to protect senior citizens from physical, emotional, financial and psychological abuses.
On the other hand, the Lower House registered 178 “yes” votes and zero negative in passing HB 8884 that grants senior citizens and persons with disabilities 20 percent discount on travel tax.
Also covered by the travel tax discounts are students representing their schools and the country in international sports tournaments and academic competitions and Philippine representatives to international academic conferences, beauty pageants and sports competitions
Arroyo aired optimism on the enactment of HB 8837 that creates the NCSC.
The Speaker was one of the principal authors of the said bill. It was approved on third reading by the Lower House last January 29, 2019 with 175 approval and no objection and abstention.
“With this bill, there will be one agency, the NCSC, which will be responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs for our senior citizens,” Arroyo said.
It was also during her presidency that two of the pioneering laws on the rights of senior citizens were passed – the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003 (RA 9257) and the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (RA 9994).
Both laws granted to senior citizens discounts of 20 percent on goods and services, social pension to indigent elderly, mandatory Philhealth coverage, death benefit assistance, express lanes, educational privileges, tax deductions, among others.
Under the proposed law, all matters pertaining to senior citizens shall be placed under the NCSC, which will ensure the effective implementation of various programs and services for senior citizens and establish a community-based health and rehabilitation, educational and socioeconomic programs for the elderly.
The NCSC will replace the National Coordinating and Monitoring Board created under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010. It will be composed of a Chairperson and six (6) Commissioners acting as a collegial body. The six Commissioners shall represent different geographical regions of the Philippines and shall hold office in their respective regions.