MANILA, Philippines?The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 gives the elderly benefits and privileges not included in the Senior Citizens Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7432).
Some five million senior citizens, defined as resident citizens of the Philippines aged 60 and above, will get the following:
? A 20-percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax on the sale of goods and services (medicines, medical and dental fees, transport fares, services in hotels and restaurants, admission fees in theaters and other places of leisure)
In case of discount promos, the senior citizens shall avail themselves of either the promotional discount or the 20-percent discount, whichever is higher.
? Mandatory PhilHealth coverage
Free medical and dental service, diagnostic and laboratory fees in all government facilities
? A monthly stipend of P500
For indigents, a P1,500-monthly stipend and free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal disease
? A five-percent discount on water bills (if consumption is less than 30 cubic meters a month) and electric bills (if consumption is less than 100 kilowatt-hours)
? Educational assistance for those who shall meet school admission requirements
To avail themselves of benefits, senior citizens should present their passport or other documents establishing their citizenship and age.
In case of death, the nearest surviving relative of the deceased senior citizen shall get P2,000.
The law also orders the Department of Health, local government units and other concerned organizations to institute a national health program for the elderly.
It also establishes an Office for Senior Citizens Affairs in all cities and municipalities, and a senior citizens ward in every government hospital.
First-time violators of the law face imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.
For subsequent violations, the fine can go up to P200,000, and the prison term can reach six years.
Anyone who abuses the privileges granted in the law shall pay a fine of P5,000 to P50,000, and shall be jailed for at least six months. Cyril L. Bonabente, Inquirer Research