Binay assails disservice to senior citizens

United Opposition (UNO) vice presidential candidate and Makati Mayor Jojo said yesterday the delay in the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act is a great disservice to the elderly who still cannot avail of the full benefits of the law.

“Kaming mga senior citizens ay ilan taon na lang ang natitira pero hanggang ngayon ay niloloko pa rin kami ni Mrs. Arroyo,” Binay told a radio interview in Nueva Vizcaya. “Meron na ngang batas pero wala pa ring implementing order. ‘Yan po ay napakalaking kasalan sa amin.”

The law granting a 20-percent discount to all citizens 60 years old and above has been expanded to exempt the beneficiaries from the 12-percent Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT), which effectively trimmed down to 8 percent the discount enjoyed by senior citizens.

Under the new law, which amended Republic Act 7432, senior citizens are exempt from paying the 12 percent VAT on medicines; medical, diagnostic and laboratory fees; and fares for land, sea and air transport, among others.

The original Senior Citizens Act also extended full 20-percent discount to the elderly when they purchase essential goods and services until the 12-percent EVAT came along that brought down the discount to 8 percent.

It was only last February that Malacanang signed the law amid appeals by the Department of Finance not to approve the law because it would cost the government some P1.68 billion in revenue losses at a time when the budget gap is nearing P300 billion. Budget deficit in 2009 hit the record high of P293.2 billion, or about 3.7 percent of the gross domestic product, higher than the target of P250 billion.

The finance department also claimed that the Expanded Senior Citizens Act would complicate the administration and mechanism of EVAT.

“Ang mga senior citizens hanggang ngayon ay naghihintay. Nandiyan na ang batas na ibinabalik ang 20 percent discount pero nang dahil sa EVAT, wala pa ring implementing order,” the UNO vice presidential candidate pointed out.

Binay has staunchly opposed EVAT, calling it anti-poor and anti-people because it burdens not only the senior citizens, but the entire citizenry.

“Alam naman natin ‘yang EVAT na ‘yan ay patuloy na nagpapahirap at magpapahirap lalo na sa mga mahihirap, bata man o matanda, may trabaho o walang trabaho,” explained Binay, a senior citizen himself.#