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The House is pushing for more senior discounts on water and power bills.

The House of Representatives passed a bill boosting the discount given to older citizens on their monthly electric and water use and exempting such bills from the value-added tax on second reading.

House Bill 10568, which would alter Republic Act No. 7432, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, was passed by voice vote at Tuesday’s plenary session.

The bill proposes to increase the current 5% discount for older folks on their monthly electric and water consumption to a 10% discount.

The exemption would still be subject to a consumption cap, according to Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, but the limit for electricity usage would be doubled from 100 to 150 kilowatt-hours in the bill. The amount of water available is limited to 30 cubic meters.

According to Salceda, the bill includes a safeguard against abuse.

“The law expressly stipulates that the senior must reside in the household in order to qualify for the exemptions and reductions,” he noted.

The bill directs the National Commission on Senior Citizens to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the measure in consultation with the Energy Regulatory Commission, Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and other concerned utility regulatory agencies, as well as national senior citizen organizations.

Rep. Rodolfo Ordanes of the Senior Citizens Party-list, meantime, asked his colleagues to continue providing institutionalized aid in fundamental social services to the country’s 10 million old.

“This is our ongoing response to the problem of developing crucial legislative ideas that will have a big impact on the lives of our marginalized seniors, bridging their involvement and access to the benefits of a sustained and enhanced quality of life,” he said.

Aside from the larger reductions, Ordanes stated that the idea would eliminate the value-added tax on power and water bills registered in the names of older residents.

“Kaya’t tiyak na mararamdaman ng ating mga nakatatanda ang ginhawa kapag naisabatas na ito (That’s why the elderly would feel the ease (in financial stress) once these are adopted into law),” Ordanes remarked.

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