Court upholds Senior Citizen, PWD laws

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THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the legality of several provisions of Republic Act 9257 (Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010) and

Republic Act 9442 (Magna Carta for Disabled Persons) stemming from petitions filed by some drug stores.

A resolution of the SC en banc, dated August 8, 2017 but released just recently, junked a motion for reconsideration filed by drug companies, particularly movant Southern Luzon Drug Corp.

The SC ruled that arguments presented by the drug firms had been passed upon by the court.

It stood pat in its decision dated April 25, 2017 that junked a petition for review on certiorari assailing the decision dated June 17, 2011, and resolution dated November 25, 2011 of the Court of Appeals (CA), which dismissed the petition for prohibition filed by Southern Luzon Drug Corp. against the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP, now National Council on Disability Affairs or NCDA), the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The firms sought to prohibit implementation of Section 4(a) of Republic Act 9257 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003 and Section 32 of RA 9442, which amends the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, particularly the granting of 20-percent discount on the purchase of medicines by senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD), respectively, and treating them as tax deduction.

On April 23, 1992, RA 7432 or An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation-Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges and For Other Purposes was enacted.

Under this law, a senior citizen, who must be at least 60 years old and has

an annual income of not more than P60,000.00 may avail of the privileges provided in Section 4 thereof, one of which is 20-percent discount on the purchase of medicines.

To recoup the amount given as discount to qualified senior citizens, covered establishments can claim an equal amount as tax credit, which can be applied against the income tax due from them.

On February 26, 2004, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed RA 9257, amending some provisions of RA 7432.

The new law retained the 20-percent discount on the purchase of medicines but removed the annual income ceiling, thereby qualifying all senior citizens to the privileges under the law.

Further, RA 9257 modified the tax treatment of the discount granted to senior citizens, from tax credit to tax deduction from gross income, computed based on the net cost of goods sold or services rendered.

On May 28, 2004, the DSWD issued the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9257.

The change in the tax treatment of the discount given to senior citizens did not sit well with some drug store owners and corporations, claiming it affected the profitability of their business.

Thus, on January 13, 2005, Carlos Superdrug Corp. together with other corporations and proprietors operating drugstores in the Philippines, filed a petition for prohibition with prayer for

Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or preliminary injunction, assailing the constitutionality of Section 4(a) of RA 9257

primarily on the ground that it amounts to taking of private property without payment of just compensation.

On March 24, 1992, RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons was enacted, codifying the rights and privileges of PWDs.

JOMAR CANLAS

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