MANILA, Philippines - Judging from the complaints I receive from senior citizens on the violation of their rights under RA 9257 (Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003), the most abusive restaurant chain in the country consists of franchises emanating from a multinational food company popularly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). For a while, I thought that the violations being reported were exceptions to the general rule brought about by aggressive individual managers desiring to brighten up their income figures. But apparently, these are not individual decisions but actions based on a nationwide company policy. Or at least, that is what is being cited by outlet managers when questioned about certain practices.
Let me share with our readers a few examples.
In July 2007, Elizabeth Macalalad of Project 6, Quezon City, her husband and two cousins, all senior citizens, ordered food from a KFC branch located on Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City for take-out. They were denied the senior citizen discount citing ?office policy? on take-outs. In September 2007, the Macalalads raised the issue with the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) in Quezon City headed by Mr. Conrado Buenaventura. Up to this date there has been no resolution of the matter. In November, the Macalalads elevated the issue to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The following month, Undersecretary Alicia Bala replied, saying that DSWD had written the KFC management to reconsider the so-called ?company policy? as it runs contrary to the intent of the law. It seems that we are now begging KFC to observe the laws of our country. Is KFC that powerful? It has been five months since this unusual request for reconsideration was made by DSWD. What else do ordinary citizens have to do to get positive action from government?
Dr. Estela Garcia of Congressional Village, Quezon City, complains about the same KFC branch on Mindanao Avenue. She ordered a bowl of arroz caldo for take-out and was denied her senior citizen discount. Letter complaints were sent to the OSCA in Quezon City but up to now, no action has been taken against KFC for violating provisions of the law covering senior citizens.
But perhaps the most heartbreaking experience with a KFC outlet (on E. Rodriguez Jr. Street near Quezon City Sports Club) is that of Melchor Flores, an 82-year-old senior citizen. Last month, on his way to St. Luke?s Medical Center, he ordered a snack of mashed potatoes costing P38. His senior citizen discount was honored. On his way back after consultations with his doctor, he decided to take his dinner at the same KFC branch. This time the KFC management refused to honor his senior citizen discount privilege, insisting that it was good only for a single transaction, once a day. Nowhere in the law does it state that senior citizens can enjoy the privilege only once a day. How?s that for a foreign company making profits from doing business in our country!
Perhaps it is time to raise this question: Should senior citizens consider boycotting all KFC outlets nationwide? There are other chicken restaurants in the country with even better-tasting chicken products than KFC. For that matter, should not all Filipinos, not just senior citizens, show their displeasure with KFC policies that violate Philippine laws and affect our elderly in a negative manner?
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Calling all UP class 1958 alumni! Class ?58 celebrates its golden jubilee during the Grand Alumni Homecoming on June 21, 2008 on the occasion of the University?s Centennial Year. The UP Inter-College Class ?58 Foundation, led by its president, lawyer Ed Tumangan, is calling on all members of the class to be counted and take part in this special milestone in life. Contact the following for more details: Ed Tumangan, 536-1768; Annie Alfonso-Virata, 921-5785; Essem Banez-Perez, 843-9798; Benjamin de Guzman, 726-5707; Luis Q.U. Uranza Jr., 926-2294; and Rosella Jean Makasiar-Puno, 924-2131.
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Before I run out of space, I wish to acknowledge some handwritten letters from senior citizens in Mindanao. I am always appreciative of the efforts taken to painstakingly write down these notes and I thank the authors for their kind and generous thoughts on our work.
Retired PAF Lt. Col. Zacarias Morales, a veteran of the Bataan Death March, writes from Davao City. He does not have any specific complaints. He merely wishes to share with us his pride in having two sons who are doing well in the military service. One is Army Brig. Gen. Ricardo Morales (PMA class 1977), Fort Bonifacio camp commander and Col. Michael Morales (US Coast Guard Academy class 1983) formerly with the PMA Corps of Professors. Zac Morales now does a little farming aside from enjoying his ?apos.? Congratulations on your two fine sons.
From Cagayan de Oro City, Mrs. Sonia Alfabeto, a retired city tourism officer, relates an interesting experience about senior citizen discounts and the use of credit cards. Apparently she always carries with her copies of my Inquirer articles on senior citizen benefits and the use of credit cards. When she encounters problems with business establishments, she presents my articles to the managers and fortunately, they are open-minded enough to grant her the 20-percent discount. All that they ask is to xerox the articles so that they can show them to the store owner. This indicates that part of the problem is the very limited government dissemination of the senior citizen law and its implementing rules and regulations.
Mrs. Alfabeto also writes about her problem with KFC at the Limketkai shopping mall in Cagayan de Oro. She was not allowed to take out her order and enjoy the senior citizen discount. KFC ?company policy? again in action against senior citizens!
Last September, Mrs. Alfabeto bought a birthday cake from Goldilocks worth P600. She was denied the senior citizen discount on the basis of a DTI administrative order which excludes ?expensive cakes? from senior citizen discounts. Apparently, senior citizens are not entitled to partake of expensive cakes. In the view of DTI, our privileges are only good for the cheap stuff. When she referred the matter to the DTI Regional Office, she was referred to the DSWD Regional Office?the usual game of passing the buck.
First of all, what an insulting DTI administrative order! Secretary Peter Favila and Social Welfare Undersecretary Alicia Bala should look into this. Senior citizens would appreciate some action from them.