In line with the elderly week from October 1 to 7 as provided in Republic Act No. 10868 or the Centenarians Act of 2016, our lawmakers should refile and revive House Bill No. 9644 filed by Congressman Lito Atienza in the 18th Congress which will grant twenty percent (20%) discount for senior citizens (SCs) travelling through tollways in skyways using radio frequency identification devices (RFID) provided the cars are registered in their names.
The bill actually seeks to restore the said benefit which was clearly provided under Section 4(h) of Republic Act No. 9257, or the Expanded SC Act of 2003, which states, among others, that the SCs are granted 20% in “skyways”. However, when RA 9257 was amended by RA 9994 or the Expanded SC Act of 2010, instead of “expanding” SCs’ benefit, the said 20% discount of SCs on toll fees was deleted when the word “skyways” was removed by RA 9994 from the list of transportation services where SCs could avail of said discount.
Thus, when this issue was brought before the Toll Regulatory Board , the latter said that it was the opinion of the Department of Justice, that the said amendatory law showed that ‘the legislative intent appears to limit the coverage of 20% discount on actual fares for land transportation and travel, excluding toll fees in skyways and expressways’” as if travelling through skyways is not a form of land transportation.
The Atienza’s bill is the answer to the SCs very sad situation since said bill will not only restore the word “skyways” in the bills but will make it very clear that the 20% discount for SCS shall apply to “skyways and expressways whose toll fees are paid through the radio frequency identification devices (RFID) or similar systems.”
Indeed, a sad day for SCs to know that it was not the ‘legislative intent’ to grant them such privilege. Reviving and refiling the said bill will rectify the apparent wrong committed by our legislators, especially the representative of the SCs in Congress, when they practically abandoned our SCs by allowing such amendatory law to be passed without fighting for the rights of the SCs. Thus, we look forward to seeing the refiling of the said bill with the hope that President Marcos will certify it as an urgent bill in time for the celebration of Elderly Week this coming October 1 to 7.
ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL
Advocate for Rights of Senior Citizes
Las Pinas City