DSWD may soon do away with seniors’ booklets
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Friday said it plans to do away with the purchase booklets that senior citizens use for record-keeping when availing themselves of discounts on medicines and other essential goods.
A recent position paper by the department’s Program Management Bureau (PMB) proposes that the booklets—where drug store or supermarket staff note down the transactions of senior customers—be replaced by online records.
‘No longer convenient’
The seniors “tend to forget to bring their booklets and even read their content,” the PMB explained.
They actually need to bring two booklets for their purchases: a “senior purchase booklet for basic necessities and prime commodities” and a smaller one for drugstore purchases. With the latter, they are also asked to present a prescription.
The PMB said “It is no longer convenient on the part of senior citizens to use purchase slip booklets.”
As more government services become digital, the paper said, there should be a “system for monitoring, storing and reporting data” for the purchase of medicines and other items covered by discounts and tax exemptions.
It also recommended that the National Commission of Senior Citizens conduct its own review to see the advantages of “data sharing mechanisms” with pharmacies and integrating the national ID system (PhilSys), once the booklet system is abolished.
Some establishments already have the ID numbers of regular senior customers stored in their database, hence they are no longer required to present the document.
Under Republic Act No. 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, seniors are entitled to a 20-percent discount and a 12-percent exemption from the value-added tax (VAT) when purchasing certain goods and services.
For indigent seniors
Failure to accord these privileges is penalized with imprisonment of up to six years and a fine of up to P200,000. Erring business establishments also face a revocation of their permits or franchises.
Two bills pending in the House of Representatives seek the removal of purchase booklets as a requirement for senior customers.
Meanwhile, the DSWD on Friday announced that the increase in the monthly pension given to indigent seniors—from P500 to P1,000—is already in effect.
Some P49.8 billion had been allotted this year for the increase, covering around 4.1 million beneficiaries, according to DSWD spokesperson Romel Lopez.
The pension is for those at least 60 years old and above, and who are not receiving other pensions, Lopez explained.
To prevent long lines at DSWD offices, the pension is released every six months or in two tranches per year.
On Friday, first lady Liza Araneta Marcos led the distribution of the newly increased pensions at the DSWD’s main office in Quezon City. Some 250 seniors from different parts of Metro Manila turned up for the payout.