CLARK FREEPORT – A stronger law that will have more benefits for senior citizens (SCs) and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
This is the advocacy and primary legislation that noted election lawyer Romulo Macalintal has mounted and will work on if elected to the Senate.
During a press conference here on Wednesday, Macalintal said he has been fighting for SCs’ rights for the past six years after filing cases against establishments which refused to grant SCs their rights and privileges under the law.
“My priority legislation is to emend certain provisions of the SC law and introduce new bills,” he said.
“Initially, establishments are so strict when it comes to senior citizens. They ask for so many things and limit them to senior citizens cards for them to avail of their rights and privileges. If you don’t have a card you are not allowed to have your rights,” he recalled.
“But after I filed a case against 20 establishments, they now allow any senior even without their card to avail of their rights and privileges so long as they have a government issued ID,” he said.
“Kaya nga makakalimutin kami kasi senior na kami,” he quipped.
Macalintal said, “all the damages that we received like compensation or monetary benefits that were paid were all donated by these establishments to organizations serving senior citizens.” He added that “not a single cent went to my pocket.”
Macalintal said even items on promo before were not subjected to SC discounts. “They were so strict that if the item is on promo, seniors were not entitled to discounts. So, I sought an opinion from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) because it has always been my contention that even if the item is on promo, seniors are still entitled to a discount,” Macalintal said.
The DTI said if the promo is not sanctioned by them, the item on promo should considered as a regular priced item to which the senior is entitled, said Macalintal.
“I am doing this because if there is no clarity in the regulation, it will be very easy to circumvent the provisions of the law,” he said.
But there are still other matters and discounts that should be extended to SCs especially with the prices of basic commodities, medicines and medical services, Macalintal said.
“We can forego with the food discounts para hindi na tayo kumain ng kumain,” he said with a laugh. “But we need higher discounts on medicines and medical services,” he added.
Macalintal also said he has already made a proposal “which I already submitted to the House a long time ago that if a senior citizen reaches 70 years old, he should already have 30 percent discount and by 80 years old, it should be 40 percent and by 90 years old and above, it should be a 50 percent discount.”
He said he is also proposing that RA 10868 or the Centenarian Law whereas a SC is given P100,000 when he reaches 100 years old be amended.
Macalintal said, “in my proposal through a letter to Senate President Sotto and some congressmen, the money should be given in installment.
He said if a SC reaches 80 years old, he should be given the first installment of P30,000 and by 90 years old another P30,000 and the rest or P40,000 when the SC reaches 100 years old.
Macalintal said the amendment will also cover giving SCs P100,000 for every year after their 100 years which is already being done in Taguig City in Metro Manila.
“Because we Filipinos… we take care of our elders. We don’t send them to home for the aged like in other countries,” he said.
“So, seniors need money for their caregivers or relatives who are taking care of them,” he added.
“Para naman mapakinabangan yung pera. That’s only too small because they need that for medical services and their care givers,” he said.
On public utility discounts
Macalintal said the five percent discounts on water and electric bills is not properly implemented and defeats the spirit of the law.
He said the law should be amended in such a way that SCs are entitled to a 20 percent discount on the first 100kwh or to the fist 30 cm.
“Because at present if SCs hit 100 kilowatt per hour (kwh) they are no longer entitled to a discount after that and if they hit 30 cubic meters (cm), they are not entitled to discount. It’s like if you reach 30 cm you cannot drink any more or you cannot turn the aircon any more after 100kwh,” he said.
On free movies everywhere in the Philippines
Macalintal also said SCs and PWDs should be given free movies everywhere they go. “Hindi yung kung sa Pampanga ka, sa Pampanga ka lang at hindi ka pwedi manood ng sine ng libre sa Makati. Dapat kapag senior kana o PWD, kahit saan sinehan pwedi kana manood ng libre,” he said.
Macalintal said this will also redound to the benefi t of the establishments because SCs or PWDs are always accompanied by one or two or more persons who will also eat and pay and generate economic activities for the establishments.
“My proposals are all very doable,” he said.
Meanwhile, Macalintal said this is his first venture in public service and first time to run for any electoral position.
He admitted that his personal budget for his senate run is only P5 million.
“Some people are laughing at me, but I have my faith and I am now reaching out to senior citizens and PWDs to be my official campaign managers,” he said.
“There are about nine million SCs and PWDs, he said. But we need 16 million votes to get elected. If senior citizens and PWDs campaign for me by asking their children and grandchildren to vote for me, I’m sure to make it to the senate,” he said.
Macalintal said he is running as an independent candidate since he is not connected or nominated by any political party.
“But I was invited by Vice President Leny Robredo to be one the candidates under her coalition Ocho Derecho,” he said.
“Save your last vote for me because you will be voting integrity and honesty,” he said.