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SENIORS’ UTILITY BILLS DISCOUNT GETS HOUSE OK

The House of Representatives unanimously approved on final reading a measure increasing the discount granted to senior citizens on their monthly electric and water consumption and exempting such bills from value-added tax.

With 203 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed on third and final reading House Bill 10568, which would amend Republic Act 7432 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

The bill proposes to raise the rate of discount granted to senior citizens on their monthly electric and water consumption from the present 5 percent to 10 percent.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said the exemption would still be subject to a cap on consumption, but for electricity consumption, the limit is also increased in the bill from 100-kilowatt hours to 150. The cap on water is kept at 30 cubic meters.

“The senior has to be living in the household subject to the exemptions and discounts.”

Salceda said the measure contains a safeguard against abuse.

“The measure explicitly states that the senior has to be living in the household subject to the exemptions and discounts,” the veteran legislator added.

The bill directs the National Commission of Senior Citizens, in consultation with the Energy Regulatory Commission, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System and other concerned utility regulatory agencies, as well as national organizations of senior citizens, to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the measure.

Senior Citizens Party-list Representative Rodolfo Ordanes, meanwhile, urged his colleagues to continue giving the country’s 10 million elderly institutionalized relief in basic social services.

“This is our continuing response on rising to the challenge of coming up with important legislative initiatives that will significantly affect the lives of our marginalized elderly.”

“This is our continuing response on rising to the challenge of coming up with important legislative initiatives that will significantly affect the lives of our marginalized elderly, and bridge their participation and access to the benefits of a sustained and improved quality of life,” Ordanes stressed.

The legislator said aside from the bigger discounts, the proposal would remove the value-added tax on electricity and water bills that are registered under the name of senior citizens.

Kaya’t tiyak na mararamdaman ng ating mga nakatatanda ang ginhawa kapag naisabatas na ito (That’s why the ease (in financial burden) would really be felt by the elderly once these get enacted into law),” the lawmaker concluded.

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