(PNA file photo by Robinson Niñal Jr.)

MANILA – A senator announced on Tuesday that he filed a measure seeking to reduce the qualifying age for senior citizens in the country from 60 to 56.

Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. said this measure will provide earlier the benefits of the elders which the lawmaker calls "the least, the lost, and the last."

Silang mga buong buhay na nagsumikap at nagtrabaho para sa kanilang pamilya. Silang mga walang humpay na nagaambag sa paglago ng ekonomiya. Tunay na hindi kailanman matatawaran ang kanilang ambag sa pagsulong ng ating lipunan at bansa (They, who have struggled and worked for their families their whole lives. They, who have contributed to boost the economy. It is only true that their contribution is incomparable in upholding our society and the country”, Revilla said in a statement.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1573 seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 7432 which defines a senior citizen as any resident citizen of the Philippines who is at least 60 years old.

Revilla said when the pandemic hit the country, a lot of senior citizens did not reach the age of 60.

"Habang may oras pa eh bigyang halaga na natin sila sa pamamagitan ng pagpapaabot ng benepisyo. Tandaan natin na ang mga kamay nila ang humubog kung ano man ang magandang tinatamasa natin ngayon (While there is still time, let us value them by providing their benefits. Let us put in mind that their hands shaped whatever good we are enjoying now),” he said.

According to the latest data provided by the Department of Health, 7.33 percent of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases among Filipino senior citizens resulted in death as compared to 0.76 percent mortality among those between the age of 18 to 59 years old.

Under existing laws, senior citizens are entitled to the following: 20 percent discount and VAT-exemption on medicines, medical supplies and equipment, transportation fares including land and domestic air and sea travel fares, hotels, restaurants, recreation centers and other places of leisure such as cinemas; income tax exemption for minimum wage earners; minimum of 5 percent discount on monthly water and electricity bills; exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs; free medical, dental, diagnostic, and laboratory services in all government facilities; provision of express lanes in all commercial and government establishments and death benefit assistance, among others.

Meanwhile, Revilla also filed SB 1558 which seeks to require establishments to provide priority seating for senior citizens.

It shall require establishments including, but not limited to, restaurants, libraries, recreational centers and venue halls to reserve and designate the best possible seats and tables to senior citizens. (PNA)