Villafuerte: RA 11982 gives cash bonanza to seniors

February 26, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 230 views

ELDERLY Filipinos are getting a cash bonanza by the time they turn octogenarians and nonagenarians and not only when they reach 100 years old, under Republic Act (RA) No. 11982 that President Marcos has just signed, according to Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte.

Villafuerte, who is president of the National Unity Party (NUP), said that our senior citizens, whether living here or abroad, will each be getting cash rewards of P10,000 when they turn 80, 85, 90 and 95 years of age.

These elderly Filipinos will still get another P1oo,ooo when they reach 100 years old, as provided for in the original law benefitting centenarians, said Villafuerte, who is a lead author of RA 11982.

“Seldom do Filipinos reach the age of 100, so what better way for the national government and the Congress to show our country’s appreciation for the significant contributions of our grandparents and other seniors to society during their relatively more productive years than to give them a cash windfall not only when they become centenarians but even when they turn 80, 85, 90 and 95 years old,” Villafuerte said.

Villafuerte was the lead author of House Bill (HB) 302, which was one of the bills consolidated into the final version of the measure—(HB 7535)—approved by the House of Representatives.

He had authored HB 302 with Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata along with the Bicol Saro partylist.

RA 11982 amends RA 10868 or the “Centenarians Act of 2016,” which granted a P100,000 cash gift to Filipino centenarians.

The law mandates the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) to take over this project’s implementation from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

RA 10868 tasked the DSWD to take charge of distributing to centenarians the cash gift and the accompanying letter of felicitation from the President for each beneficiary.

Initial funding for the cash gifts shall still come from the DSWD, but the subsequent outlay for this project’s continued yearly implementation shall be included in the annual GAA (General Appropriations Act).

According to the DSWD, there are 662 Filipino centenarians.

Villafuerte had authored or co-authored 14 of the 49 laws signed by President Marcos since he assumed office in 2022.

The House has thus far approved 58 of the priority bills that the President and the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) had identified for urgent approval, including 9 of the 49 that Mr. Marcos had signed into law.

Villafuerte had authored or co-authored 41 of the House-approved priority bills.

Earlier, Villafuerte welcomed a House proposal to almost double the discount cap on the groceries of senior citizens to P500 monthly, as the early dividend of the directive of Speaker Martin Romualdez for a congressional review of the laws providing financial benefits to the elderly and persons with disabilities (PWDs).

Villafuerte lauded the Romualdez-ordered review by the chamber of the laws providing financial relief to seniors and PWDs to ascertain how much additional discounts should be given to these people.

“I agree with Speaker Martin (Romualdez) that seniors and PWDs are getting paltry discounts on their essential food purchases as provided under the social protection laws benefiting their sectors,” Villafuerte said.

“Hence my support for the recent move by three House committees to jointly direct the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and DA (Department of Agriculture) to raise the cap on the 5% discount now enjoyed by senior citizens on their purchases of certain basic goods from the current P65 to P125 per week,” Villafuerte said.

“This will translate into a maximum monthly price discount of P500 per senior citizen on his or her groceries,” added the congressmen, a lead author of Republic Act (RA) 11916, or the “Social Pension for Indigent Seniors Act” of 2022, which doubled the monthly pension of indigent elderly Filipinos to P1,000.

Villafuerte was referring to the Romualdez-ordered joint review of laws benefiting the elderly and PWDs being done by the House ways and means panel with its committees on senior citizens and on PWDs.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda chairs the House ways and means committee while Senior Citizens Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes and Agusan del Sur Rep. Alfelito Bascug are the respective heads of the House panels for senior citizens and for PWDs.

Based on the food inflation rates from 2010 to this year, the three committees determined that the discount cap on the weekly groceries of seniors should be raised from P65 to P125.

Under the current system, promulgated through DTI-DA Administrative Order No. 10-02, as part RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, senior citizens are entitled to a special discount of 5 percent of the regular retail prices, without exemption from the value-added tax (VAY), of basic necessities.

RA 10754, or “An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of PWDs,” meanwhile, entitled PWDs to the same discounts.

Villafuerte also supported Romualdez’s proposal to provide higher weekly discounts to seniors and PWDs not only on their groceries but on their purchases of food supplements as weekly.

The Bicol solon earlier threw his support behind Romualdez’s commitment for the House to wield its oversight power to compel establishments to abide by laws granting discounts and other benefits to an estimated 35 million senior citizens, solo parents and PWDs in the country, and possibly even initiate prosecution against errant business enterprises.

Villafuerte is also a lead author of RA 11861 that granted financial benefits and other privileges to single parents.

He supported the Speaker after the latter warned non-compliant establishments that the House would not hesitate to exercise its oversight power to force compliance by businesses with laws granting price discounts and other economic privileges to these vulnerable sectoral groups.

But until such time that the House wraps up its inquiry on this matter and clears up the issues as regards the implementation of the price discounts, Villafuerte called on national government agencies (NGAs) including the DTI, DSWD, NCSC and National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to work with local government units (LGUs) in ensuring the effective implementation of the laws beneficial to the elderly, single parents and PWDs.

“Various laws have been aptly put in place to provide economic relief to our elderly, solo parents and PWDs to help cushion the impact on them of the ever spiraling cost of living,” Villafuerte said.

“These landmark laws on social reform will amount to nothing if they are honored more in the breach.”

Hence, his support for the Speaker’s pledge for the bigger chamber to see to it that those covered by laws granting privileges to certain sectors shall receive these economic benefits.