Reveille

Monday morning with seniors

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Ever since I started writing about the rights and privileges of senior citizens, particularly under Republic Act No. 9994, better known as the Expanded Senior Citizen Act of 2010, I have been asked many questions in connection with issues related to the actual implementation of the law. Oftentimes the law is quite clear, but what is lacking is widespread dissemination for the benefit of both the business community as well as the concerned sector of society, our senior citizens who are sometimes referred to as the elderly.

Two weeks ago, an acquaintance joined our small group for a late breakfast at an old watering hole for golfers in the Greenhills area. It was a Monday morning and he proudly announced that he had just received his senior citizen identification card, officially proclaiming that he was 60 years old. He was profuse in extending his thanks for our contributions that have resulted in a better understanding of and compliance with the Senior Citizen Law. I was beginning to feel good until he blurted out, “I enjoy reading your column every day!” and then he heaped it on by adding, “It is the first thing I look for each morning.” I looked at my old buddies and we all laughed with one of them joining in the fun by saying that he also read my column every day.

Let me share with you some of the recent letters I have received from our fellow seniors relating their experiences with city ordinances that affect their daily lives.

Carmelita Go of Quezon City writes: “My husband is 78 years old, while I am 70 years old. We would like to know if the senior citizen card is good only in the city where the card is issued.”

She then explained that “SM North Edsa gives free parking for senior citizens but we were denied the same because our card was not issued in Quezon City. We decided to go to Quezon City Hall to apply for a senior card. Since we lived in Manila five years ago and moved to Quezon City, we told them we had a Manila-issued citizen card. The clerk said if we want a senior citizen card issued by them, we had to give up our Manila card and pay P100 for the new card. My husband did not see the logic and said we were no longer interested. The clerk then asked for our address and said, ‘We can settle the matter at home.’”

It appears that someone in City Hall wanted to make a few bucks and was even willing to go to the residence of the senior citizen to “settle the matter.”

First of all, when we buy medicines or dine at restaurants, the privilege of the senior citizen is honored regardless of where his senior citizen card is issued. By law, the card “shall be honored nationwide.” I have never come across a business establishment refusing to honor the senior citizen card simply because it was issued in another locality.

Insofar as the free parking at SM North is concerned, the Quezon City Ordinance of 2011 states that “All senior citizens of Quezon City are granted exemption from payment of parking fees for the first three hours. The senior citizen must be the driver or the passenger of the private vehicle and the privilege can be availed of on multiple occasions.”

Perhaps in this particular case, the Quezon City ordinance, as differentiated from the national law, specifically refers to senior citizens of the city. Sometimes our bureaucrats can be extremely narrow-minded; their ulterior motives make our lives more difficult. The fact that this clerk offered to go to their house indicates he had other things in mind. The head of the Quezon City Office of Senior Citizen Affairs should be able to act judiciously on this matter. A senior citizen is a senior citizen regardless of where he lives or where his card is issued. Of course that is my humble opinion.

Another experience from Cebu City, name not given.

“Two weeks ago, my wife and I had our annual physical checkup (we are in our seventies) at the Cebu Doctors Hospital in Cebu City. I had an ultrasound of the whole abdomen; my wife had a mammography, a sonomammography, and a transvaginal ultrasound. When I presented my Visa credit card, I was informed by the cashier that if paid by credit card, only a 15-percent discount would be given. The full 20 percent could be enjoyed only when paid in cash. Is this allowed?”

This is definitely not allowed. The IRR (implementing rules and regulations) on the law is very clear. “Section 4. Article 8. Credit card payments—The 20-percent discount and VAT exemption shall also apply to purchases of goods and services by senior citizens paying through credit cards.”

This reminds me of my experience many years ago with a Mercury Drug outlet in Quezon City. Over the years since a heart bypass operation, I have had medical needs for blood pressure control, diabetes and prostrate issues that kept mounting. With the increased cost of prescription drugs, the situation required a larger cash outlay each time I visited the drug store. I would attempt to use my credit card, but the clerk would always inform me that I could only enjoy the senior citizen discount with a cash payment. I did not know any better. And so I accepted with a growing feeling of frustration what was being unilaterally imposed by the business establishment.

Earlier, then Vice President Noli de Castro issued a communication informing senior citizens that they could avail of the 20-percent discount regardless of the manner of payment. He said that the law did not distinguish whether the payment was made in cash or with a credit card. Armed with a copy of the vice president’s letter, I proceeded to the Mercury Drug outlet prepared to use my credit card. To my chagrin, Mercury Drug refused to budge from its original position saying that the matter had to be referred to their main office for instructions.

I related my experience to Vice President De Castro and he immediately called for a meeting with Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Finance Secretary Gary Teves, and Ms Vivian Ascona, president of Mercury Drug. The matter was threshed out and a few days later, the vice president’s office informed me that Mercury Drug had agreed to honor the senior citizen discount on payments made through the use of a credit card. After allowing some time to get the new arrangements in place, I decided to visit Mercury Drug for my usual replenishments. To my relief, the 20-percent discount was honored with my credit card!

Today, Mercury Drug has established a pattern of efficient service for senior citizens with its express lanes for the elderly.

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  • ConnieLee90

    General Farolan, lucky you to have the vice president as a friend and get your unimportant, low priority senior discount complaint resolved in no time.

    The moral of your story is, to get things moving in our society, you got to have powerful connections. And General, you have proven the point !

    • brunogiordano

      Ang moral ng storia ay ang mga matatanda ay maraming POWERFUL CONNECTIONS kaya hindi dapat bale walain sila.

    • The Kulette

      Pasalamat tayo, kasi naging beneficiary tayo ng connection niya kay Vice noon…

  • boybakal

    Lesson of the story….Old people despite getting so many benefits as Senior citizens still complain on minor things.
    But that is normal….sometimes patience and understanding weakens too as old age advances.

    • brunogiordano

      Pag tanda mo ganyan ka rin.

      At sigurado tatanda ka rin tulad namin.

      • Mon Sparks

        Or maybe he won’t reach that age…

      • boybakal

        This song is dedicated to you Senior Citizens na masyado ng Sensitive.

        Handog ko sa inyo by Florante

        Parang kailan lang
        Ang mga pangarap ko’y kay hirap abutin
        Dahil sa inyo
        Narinig ang isip ko at naintindihan
        Kaya’t itong awiting aking inaawit
        Nais ko’y kayo ang handugan

        Tatanda at lilipas din ako
        Nguni’t mayroong awiting
        Iiwanan sa inyong ala-ala
        Dahil, minsan, tayo’y nagkasama

      • The Kulette

        ha-ha.. buti tanggap mo… when you get there, the view is a lot different… you will see… sana.

    • The Kulette

      wait till you get your turn… thank God if you did :)

      • boybakal

        Senior citizens are really sensitive people.
        Always complain, complain.
        As if they are being mistreated.
        Hey, you’re still valuable to society. Act like twenty year old.
        There’s still productivity in being a senior.
        Good, I am still a junior to complain. I am still competing to this maddening world.

  • josh_alexei

    Mr Farolan, I am a Seniour and a card is not necessary…if anyone is in doubt any id will suffice, but in most establishment where benefits are due they are Automatically on the records as soon as midnight of your Seniour Citizenship age hits..like for example the Drug Plan will activate automatically, the Old Age Security you have Six months to decide your option if to wait another year to get the lumpsum, apply for income Supplemental (will auto adjust the next based on Tax Returns filing) or you can even donate it back to the Government for which you will receive a tax deductible receipts…And all discounts is just the word of honour…Buying tickets for Mass Transit, just tell the retailer you are buying seniour tickets and the Bus Driver would not even bother to check your id if it is not too obvious that you are a very young adult. And IT IS UNIVERSAL

    • The Kulette

      you obviously are not from the Philippines…

      • josh_alexei

        Your guess is right…and to point out the difference is the idea. Some 100 or so years ago, the city where I reside currently had seen 4 out of 10 of her newborn babies not to see their FIRST birthdays…it was a very Bad time..and there was this Newsman who crusaded against that Inequity by pointing out the Difference forcefully in his paper…He spent a fortune of his Paper Revenue by sending his Reporters to the already Advanced Cities of the world and reported their dispatches the way it was done in those part of the world…He lost many Friends, but gained a few ones who made the Big Difference, the PM of the country and prominent politicians who initiated the Social Reforms that spread all over the land and he left that Giant Media to a Charitable Foundation that today continue to carry his legacies…and that Country is now Canada and the City is now Toronto. and the man is Joseph Atkinson and the Paper is the Toronto Star.

  • WAUNAKEE

    As usual, cutting-off the entitlement of senior citizens to a full discount reflects a form of corporate greed – which overshadows the so called “socially-responsive image” of such corporations mentioned in the complaints! Ang kaunting biyaya para sa masa – kahit itinakda na ng kaukulang batas, kinukurakot pa ng mga ganid na opisyal ng bayan at mga negosyante.

    • boybakal

      Corporate greed….funny.
      Uminom lang ng kape gusto discount pa.
      Pag di binigyan ng discount….corporate greed….that is kape owner lost.

  • virgoyap

    But 20% discount is not applicable in Malls and groceries. More so they are very selective. They give 5% discount only to rice, corn, bread fresh or dried and canned fish… fresh pork beef and poultry meat, fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk, fresh vegetables and root crops, coffee and creamer, sugar, cooking oil, firewood, charcoal, candles. These are the only items that are discounted in SOME (but not all) groceries..

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