Pooling elderly discounts spells homes for the aged

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With rising costs of electricity and water services, the close to seven million Filipino senior citizens should now be more vigilant in asserting their rights under the law, according to an advocate for rights of the elderly.

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Romulo Macalintal, an election lawyer, on Tuesday cited Section 4(c) of Republic Act (RA) 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

He said the section gives a minimum 5-percent discount to senior citizens on their monthly electricity and water supplied by public utilities provided individual meters are registered in their names and that the monthly consumption does not exceed 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 30 cubic meters of water.

Experience shows, however, that most senior citizens are not aware of the benefit or the law is not properly implemented because of failure of the elderly to comply with certain requirements and improper registration of the water and electric meters once the owner turns 60 years old or becomes a senior citizen.

And, Macalintal said in a statement, because it appears that the amount of monthly discount is negligible or not worth the hassle of claiming, most senior citizens do not even bother to claim the discount.

“But look how much could be generated if all these discounts are claimed. Under existing power rates of P11 per kWh, 100 kWh will cost P1,100 and 5 percent thereof will give an elderly a discount of P55 per month. On the other hand, the cost of 30 cubic meters of water under the progressive rate of Maynilad is P1,700 and 5 percent thereof give an elderly a discount of P85 per month. While there are 7 million senior citizens at present, it is estimated that only 100,000 of them have electric meters and 50,00 [with]water meters individually registered in their names.”

“Thus, at P55 discount per month per senior citizen times 100,000 of them with electric meters will give us a total of P5.5 million a month in elderly discount or a total of P66 million a year for electricity. At P85 discount per month per senior citizen times 50,000 of them with water meters will give us a total of P4.25 million a month or a total of P51 million in senior citizens discount a year for water,” Macalintal said.

That translates to “an overwhelming amount of P117 million (P66 million plus P51 million) combined senior citizen discounts for electric and water consumptions a year.

If this amount is pooled together and managed by competent and credible managers, Macalintal said, P117 million a year could surely build a lot of homes for the aged and the homeless with all the much-needed facilities and regular supply of food and medicines.

“Even if only one-half of this amount or P58.5 million a year is pooled together, we can practically build medical facilities or houses for indigent senior citizens almost every year,” Macalintal said.

He added that “[w]e could execute a waiver where these discounts would be channeled to that common fund with an able, credible and trusted managers, the likes of [Manuel] “Manny” V. Pangilinan. And thereafter, we could look forward to a brighter and happier group of Filipino senior citizens with a common cause.”

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