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Attorneys of the Philippines Legal News

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What Is Expanded Senior Citizens Act

Aside from Republic Act 10645, which provides mandatory PhilHealth coverage for all senior citizens, Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 has also upgraded and expanded services for elderly. The law's objective is to provide a more comprehensive policy that will be beneficial to senior citizens especially in terms of improving their total well-being. The privileges that the senior citizens are currently entitled to are as follows:

“(a) the grant of twenty percent (20%) discount and exemption from the value -added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the following goods and services from all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of the senior citizen

“(1) on the purchase of medicines, including the purchase of influenza and pnuemococcal vaccines, and such other essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment to be determined by the Department of Health (DOH).

“The DOH shall establish guidelines and mechanism of compulsory rebates in the sharing of burden of discounts among retailers, manufacturers and distributors, taking into consideration their respective margins;

“(2) on the professional fees of attending physician/s in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics and home health care services;

“(3) on the professional fees of licensed professional health providing home health care services as endorsed by private hospitals or employed through home health care employment agencies;

“(4) on medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees in all private hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient clinics, and home health care services, in accordance with the rules and regulations to be issued by the DOH, in coordination with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth);

“(5) in actual fare for land transportation travel in public utility buses (PUBs), public utility jeepneys (PUJs), taxis, Asian utility vehicles (AUVs), shuttle services and public railways, including Light Rail Transit (LRT), Mass Rail Transit (MRT), and Philippine National Railways (PNR);

“(6) in actual transportation fare for domestic air transport services and sea shipping vessels and the like, based on the actual fare and advanced booking;

“(7) on the utilization of services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers;

“(8) on admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses and concert halls, circuses, leisure and amusement; and

“(9) on funeral and burial services for the death of senior citizens;

“(b) exemption from the payment of individual income taxes of senior citizens who are considered to be minimum wage earners in accordance with Republic Act No. 9504;

“(c) the grant of a minimum of five percent (5%) discount relative to the monthly utilization of water and electricity supplied by the public utilities: Provided, That the individual meters for the foregoing utilities are registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein: Provided, further, That the monthly consumption does not exceed one hundred kilowatt hours (100 kWh) of electricity and thirty cubic meters (30 m3) of water: Provided, furthermore, That the privilege is granted per household regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein;

“(d) exemption from training fees for socioeconomic programs;

“(e) free medical and dental services, diagnostic and laboratory fees such as, but not limited to, x-rays, computerized tomography scans and blood tests, in all government facilities, subject to the guidelines to be issued by the DOH in coordination with the PhilHealth;

“(f) the DOH shall administer free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizen patients;

“(g) educational assistance to senior citizens to pursue pot secondary, tertiary, post tertiary, vocational and technical education, as well as short-term courses for retooling in both public and private schools through provision of scholarships, grants, financial aids, subsides and other incentives to qualified senior citizens, including support for books, learning materials, and uniform allowances, to the extent feasible: Provided, That senior citizens shall meet minimum admission requirements;

“(h) to the extent practicable and feasible, the continuance of the same benefits and privileges given by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS) and the PAG-IBIG, as the case may be, as are enjoyed by those in actual service;

“(i) retirement benefits of retirees from both the government and the private sector shall be regularly reviewed to ensure their continuing responsiveness and sustainability, and to the extent practicable and feasible, shall be upgraded to be at par with the current scale enjoyed by those in actual service;

“(j) to the extent possible, the government may grant special discounts in special programs for senior citizens on purchase of basic commodities, subject to the guidelines to be issued for the purpose by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA);

“(k) provision of express lanes for senior citizens in all commercial and government establishments; in the absence thereof, priority shall be given to them; and

“(l) death benefit assistance of a minimum of Two thousand pesos (Php2, 000.00) shall be given to the nearest surviving relative of a deceased senior citizen which amount shall be subject to adjustments due to inflation in accordance with the guidelines to be issued by the DSWD.

“In the availment of the privileges mentioned above, the senior citizen, or his/her duly authorized representative, may submit as proof of his/her entitled thereto any of the following:

“(1) an identification card issued by the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs (OSCA) of the place where the senior citizen resides: Provided, That the identification card issued by the particular OSCA shall be honored nationwide;

“(2) the passport of the senior citizen concerned; and

“(3) other documents that establish that the senior citizen is a citizen of the Republic and is at least sixty (60) years of age as further provided in the implementing rules and regulations.

“In the purchase of goods and services which are on promotional discount, the senior citizen can avail of the promotional discount or the discount provided herein, whichever is higher.

“The establishment may claim the discounts granted under subsections (a) and (c) of this section as tax deduction based on the cost of the goods sold or services rendered: Provided, That the cost of the discount shall be allowed as deduction from gross income for the same taxable year that the discount is granted: Provided, further, That the total amount of the claimed tax deduction net of VAT, if applicable, shall be included in their gross sales receipts for tax purposes and shall be subject to proper documentation and to the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code (NICR), as amended.”

Unremitted SSS Contributions: Are Employers Liable?

Is there a penalty for employers who fail to remit employees’ SSS contributions? By strengthening Republic Act 8282, there will be stiffer penalties for delinquent employers. Problems with SSS contributions have created a negative effect on SSS pensioners and P1200 per month cannot support the pensioners’ daily needs. According to Neri Colmenares, the uncollected contributions should be used in increasing the pension of most SSS members, which include OFWs. There are thousands of cases where employers do not remit SSS contributions. While it reflects on the employee’s payslip, the anomaly remains unexplained and undiscovered until the employee resigns.

Section 28 of RA 8282 states that non-remittance of worker’s SSS contributions shall be punishable by:

“a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) nor more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00), or imprisonment for not less than six (6) years and one (1) day nor more than twelve (12) years, or both, at the discretion of the court: Provided, That where the violation consists in failure or refusal to register employees or himself, in case of the covered self-employed or to deduct contributions from the employees’ compensation and remit the same to the SSS, the penalty shall be a fine of not less Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) nor more than Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) and imprisonment for not less than six (6) years and one (1) day nor more than twelve (12) years.

"(f) If the act or omission penalized by this Act be committed by an association, partnership, corporation or any other institution, its managing head, directors or partners shall be liable for the penalties provided in this Act for the offense.

"(g) Any employee of the SSS who receives or keeps funds or property belonging, payable or deliverable to the SSS and who shall appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate, or shall consent, or through abandonment or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such property or funds, wholly or partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of misappropriation of such funds or property, shall suffer the penalties provided in Article Two hundred seventeen of the Revised Penal Code.

"(h) Any employer who, after deducting the monthly contributions or loan amortizations from his employee’s compensation, fails to remit the said deduction to the SSS within thirty (30) days from the date they became due, shall be presumed to have misappropriated such contributions or loan amortizations and shall suffer the penalties provided in Article Three hundred fifteen of the Revised Penal Code.

"(i) Criminal action arising from a violation of the provisions of this Act may be commenced by the SSS or the employee concerned either under this Act or in appropriate cases under the Revised Penal Code: Provided, That such criminal action may be filed by the SSS in the city or municipality where the SSS office is located, if the violation was committed within its territorial jurisdiction or in Metro Manila, at the option of the SSS.”

What Is Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage Of Senior Citizens?

Senior citizens can now gain greater peace of mind because with the amended law, they are going to be covered by PhilHealth’s national health insurance program effective November 25, 2014. Senior citizens sixty years old and above can take advantage of this coverage. To qualify for this coverage, they need to provide proof of Filipino citizenship and they must be a resident of the country for at least six months. The senior citizen PhilHealth coverage also entitles members to declare dependents. 

What can senior citizens expect from PhilHealth coverage? 

Due to the privilege of senior citizen members to declare dependents, their spouses can also be enrolled as members as well. Members need to keep in mind that Senior Citizen category should not be mistaken or confused for Lifetime Member Category. With Lifetime Member Category, members are not required to pay contributions to become eligible for the benefits. On the other hand, Senior Citizen members need to have premium contributions and these are taken from the Sin Tax Law proceeds. 

Enrolment of senior citizen members is usually done in bulk. The list will be obtained from cities and municipalities. Each office will be required to follow the standard text file as the information will be uploaded to the database. Although individual enrolment is allowed, this is highly discouraged. 

For bulk enrolment, an electronic list of senior citizens must be obtained from the Office of the Senior Citizen Affairs or OSCA. Qualified applicants will be automatically enrolled. For individual enrolment, applicants are advised to go directly to any PhilHealth office. Some of the privileges that senior citizen members can enjoy include free dental and medical services, access to all government medical facilities, which are still subject to guidelines and many more. These are going to be issued by the Department of Health or DOH. With this amendment, senior citizens will heave a sigh of relief knowing that the country’s health insurance has got them covered. 

For individual membership, applicants are required to submit a duly accomplished PhilHealth Registration Form or also referred to as PMRF and proof that the member is indeed a senior citizen. Once the applicant has complied with the membership document requirements, a PhilHealth ID card and MDR will be issued. These will serve as proof of enrolment. 

Senior citizen members will have access to inpatient hospital care, Z-benefits, ambulatory or day services and many other packages. Senior citizens just need to present their card, proof of identification and MDR if they wish to avail of these benefits. 

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