The National Coordinating and Monitoring Board (NCMB) Secretariat has accomplished much in 2013 in ensuring that our senior citizens enjoy their benefits and privileges under Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
The NCMB Secretariat has continuously followed-up with concerned government agencies the issuance of updated and appropriate supplemental guidelines that will facilitate the implementation of RA 9994 provisions. Some of the most recent issuances were the updated guidelines from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), namely CHED Memorandum No. 56, Series of 2012, and TESDA Circular No. 04, Series of 2013, particularly granting more flexible rules for scholarship grants and financial assistance for seniors wishing to continue their formal education or pursue technical or vocational training. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) also moved independently of the Department of Health (DOH) and came up with two new circulars that reminded their accredited hospitals of granting senior citizens medical benefits under the law. PhilHealth Circular No. 056, Series of 2012 and PhilHealth Circular No. 0011, Series of 2013, specified how the PhilHealth reimbursement, the 20% senior citizens’ discount as well as the 12% VAT exemption should be computed. Meanwhile, both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry likewise amended their previously issued Joint Administrative Order #10-02, Series of 2010. The Central bank of the Philippines or Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas also issued Circular No. 5, Series of 2013 requiring the strict implementation of senior citizens priority lanes in BSP-supervised banks or financial institutions.
For more efficient implementation, the DSWD, through the NCMB, also dialogued with the DOH, the DTI, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), as well private sector groups such as the Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) League and Jollibee Food Corporation, for improved guidelines that will facilitate availment of the discounts.
Advocacy efforts to popularize RA 9994 were also undertaken by the NCMB via television and radio exposures like its interviews with Jessica Soho’s State of the Nation, Reporter’s Notebook, DZMM teleradyo, DZAS phone-patch, Sonshine Radio on Dagupan City, Aksyon Radyo in San Fernando, La Union, DZTP Tirad Pass in Candon City, Bombo Radyo-Ilocos Norte.
In addition, numerous orientations, briefings, and special lectures on RA 9994 were given as technical assistance to government agencies like the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Environment and Resources (DENR), the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC), some LGUs or Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCAs), as well as senior citizens associations.