By Filane Mikee Cervantes

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera (Photo courtesy of Office of Rep. Bernadette “BH” Herrera)

MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Thursday emphasized the need for the crafting of an inter-agency memorandum circular to improve the implementation of the laws granting discounts and benefits to senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and solo parents.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera said the gaps in the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9994 (the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010) and RA 10754 (an Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of PWDs) could be resolved faster by tweaking the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) through a joint memorandum circular or order.

She said the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and other agencies could resolve many of the issues and complaints administratively through a joint-inter-agency IRR.

“Many of the suggestions presented during the joint House hearings on the availment of discounts for PWDs, seniors, and solo parents do not need new legislation,” she said. “I appeal to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to direct these agencies to resolve the administrative issues among themselves.”

The House hearing looked into mounting complaints against business establishments not honoring the mandated discounts, particularly the 20 percent discount and 12 percent value-added tax exemption.

She noted that there is still “some wiggle room or flexibility” built into the laws on PWDs, solo parents, and senior citizens, which the implementing agencies could use to craft the IRR adjustments needed.

Herrera said if a joint inter-agency IRR would not suffice, then perhaps the President himself may have to issue an executive order.

She, however, argued that some complaints and issues raised need amendments to current laws, such as replacing all or some of the limits the DTI has placed on purchase discounts.

She said laws that govern point-of-sale transactions, third-party bookings, and online purchases may also need some tweaking for “situations IRRs cannot address.”

“Requiring online portals and apps to be user-friendly to PWDs, seniors, and solo parents, as well as students, may have to be made more explicit and clear in amendments to current laws. It seems some establishments and merchants may have become experts at spotting loopholes in the laws and regulations,” she said. (PNA)