Rep. Joey Salceda: champion of senior citizens, PWDs and solo parents in Congress | Inquirer Opinion
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Rep. Joey Salceda: champion of senior citizens, PWDs and solo parents in Congress

/ 05:14 AM May 28, 2024

If there is one person in the country on whom 12 million senior citizens are greatly indebted, it is none other than Albay 2nd District congressman Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the present House Committee on Ways and Means.

Senior citizens are oftentimes shortchanged by unscrupulous businessmen including 

famous fast-food establishments who limit their discounts to P40 per purchase, P5 discount for cakes and one leading coffee chain’s “one food item and one beverage per visit” policy. Hotels, restaurants, thru their “promo rates” directly dishonor senior discounts and 12 percent Value added tax (VAT) exemptions and this includes even our airlines. Even in the purchase of maintenance medicines, seniors encounter differing policies on discounts and vat exemptions.

Estimated VAT leakages for Senior citizens alone in 2022 was pegged at P14.77-B.  


And sadly, even government’s National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC) is greatly remiss on their mandate and has only registered 4 million out of our estimated 12 million seniors, thereby abandoning the remaining 8 million seniors, who are either unaccounted for or inexistent. 

But Rep. Joey Salceda together with Senior citizens Affairs chair Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes and PWD affairs committee chair Rep. Alfred Bascug conducted 60-day marathon joint panel hearings on these problems, met with affected sectors and agreed on significant aspects to resolve them. As a result, three bills were filed to clarify and enhance the benefits for both Seniors and PWDs, namely House bills 10312, 10313 and 10314. 

The first, HB 10312 will clarify discounts and exemption rules if the establishments have their own discounts and promos. (The rule is that restaurant promos should be authorized by the DTI, and if they are not registered, the 20 percent discount and vat exemption apply). 

The second, HB1031, will do away with the massive booklets handed out to seniors and eliminate fake cards by electronic alternatives such as enrolling them on the EGovPH Super App launched by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), This digital app streamlines access to government documents, permits, identifications and clearances, thereby enhancing the ease of doing business for the public.


And the third , House Bill 10314 grants additional benefits  for seniors and PWDs namely, 15 percent discount on electricity and water,  20 percent discount and VAT exemption on parking fees   and skyways nationwide, Expanded basic necessities (groceries)  discount for senior citizens from P260 a month to P500 a month, ease of access in online hailing and delivery platforms such as Grab, Angkas or Foodpanda or other deliveries.

Rep. Salceda is the main architect of  today’s immense health-related benefits enjoyed by senior citizens that were all included by him in the new tax reform landmark measures corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and  Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). 


As a result , millions of senior citizens are enjoying cheaper VAT free maintenance medicines today . Today,  there are more than 2,000 VAT-exempt drugs prescribed for cancer, diabetes,  kidney disease, hypertension, high cholesterol , TB, mental health and other ailments. This March, the Food and Drugs  Administration (FDA) added 20 more medicines  for hypertension, cancer and mental illness.  Their much lowered drug prices make them affordable to many senior citizens  and other poor citizens. In 2022, discounts on medicines of 2.3 million seniors amounted to P113.7-B.  

Salceda explains, “The core of the Senior citizen’s welfare issue is how to address increasing needs for specialized services and reduced personal incomes due to retirement”. This naturally produces a gap in personal capacity to finance not just health care but even basic necessities and the little pleasures that come with dignified old age”. “The average senior , he says, makes around P3,000 per month which makes 47 percent of them below the poverty line.  

Rep.Salceda is determined to establish a separate insurance fund to cover  projected P1.6 Trillion in health care for all senior citizens.. This is expected to address today’s  “acute and catastrophic health care”  for sick senior citizens and especially their burdened ordinary families.

Salceda reiterates,  “ The fiscal resources for health are not yet exhausted”. “The absorptive capacity of the DOH to spend its budget in full,  typically falls short”.  “There’s usually around P40-B in excess funds that can be used to support an aggressive seniors health insurance system”. “We are on our way there”, he says.

So being a senior citizen myself, I would like to thank Rep. Joey Salceda for protecting, standing up for the rights, not only for us the 12 million senior citizens, but also the 1.5 million PWDs and 15 million solo parents , who for the past have been disadvantaged  and neglected.

And in order to prod him on, here are two of my favorite political quotes. 

First: Take care of families, and you take care of neighborhoods. Take care of neighborhoods, and you take care of communities. Take care of communities, and you take care of a nation.

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Second : “The real power of a leader is in the number of minds he can reach, hearts he can touch, souls he can move and lives he can change”. 


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