“Age is just a number.”
Congressmen underscored this adage in a bill seeking to broaden job opportunities for retired senior citizens.
House Bill 2384 filed by legislators Paolo Duterte of Davao City, Eric Yap of Benguet and Edvic Yap and Jeffrey Soriano of ACT-CIS party-list, also offers enhanced tax incentives for private entities employing senior citizens, or those aged 60 years old and above.
“Age has been a constant barrier to opening employment opportunities for many of our physically and mentally able senior citizens who want to continue working to help augment the meager pension and retirement savings they have,” Duterte said.
“To help remedy this situation, private companies should be encouraged to provide them with jobs. The private sector can benefit
from the skills that senior citizens have acquired from their long years of hard work. Also, our senior citizens can continue to contribute to our post-pandemic economic growth,” he added.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Duterte said people aged 60 years old and above made up 8.5 percent of the population (9.22 million individuals) as of 2020. This is higher than the 7.5 percent (7.53 million senior citizens) recorded in 2015.
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), for its part, has projected that 14 percent of the total population will be 60 and older by 2035, and recommended that the government start improving the social protection and well-being of elderly Filipinos.
These included instituting geriatric care programs, raising the age of retirement and expanding employment opportunities for seniors, according to Popcom.
The bill’s authors said that widening the opportunities for the elderly will help them meet their financial needs while continuing to contribute to the country’s post-pandemic economic growth.
Under House Bill 2384, the amount of additional tax deductions from gross income entitled to private firms employing seniors is increased from 15 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages, to 25 percent “regardless of whether the income tax return was filed under the itemized deduction or optional deduction system.”
Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act currently sets the allowable deduction for firms hiring seniors at 15 percent. Duterte said their proposal aims to make this on par with the tax benefit that private companies receive when they employ persons with disabilities (PWDs), which is a deduction from gross income equivalent to 25 percent of salaries and wages paid.
Private companies are entitled to the tax deduction under HB 2384 provided that the employed senior is hired for a period of at least six months and that the annual income of the senior citizen should not exceed the latest poverty threshold as determined by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) or the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The bill’s authors pointed out that “70 percent of Filipino senior citizens still prefer working because most of their pension and retirement savings are insufficient to sustain their family and needs.”
They also cited a Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) report saying that nearly 1.3 million elderly Filipinos are living in poverty.
Duterte said a Popcom study also showed that the number of senior citizens have risen over the years “due to better health and socioeconomic conditions.”
“This means that many of them are still employable and continue to be economically productive citizens that can contribute to nation-building,” he pointed out.
HB 2384 also states that private firms employing seniors should provide them medical care and attention.
Being lifetime PhilHealth members, employed senior citizens should also enjoy the same health benefits provided other workers, Duterte said.
The recent hike in the social pension for indigent senior citizens from P500 to P1,000, while being a big help to them, is still inadequate given the continuing rise in the prices of basic commodities, the legislator from Davao’s first district pointed out.
Before the measure increasing the social pension of indigent citizens from P500 to P1,000 lapsed into law last July 30, Duterte proposed that the amount be further increased to P1,500.