Senior citizens and promo offers
For all Triple “A” awardees of the Asian Institute of Management: There will be a special Mass for Robert F. Kuan, president of the Triple “A” Association, at the AIM Chapel this afternoon at 4 p.m.
Robert is currently confined at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City, where he is undergoing immunotherapy treatments for cancer. He is in good spirits but faces an uphill battle, and we invite all to say a prayer for Robert. Robert and I graduated from the AIM in 1975 with management degrees, although under different programs.
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Yesterday, entrance exams for the Philippine Military Academy were held all over the country. I have devoted time and effort to encourage our young people, particularly from the lower middle-class of society, to try for the PMA. It is a school for leadership, and we need quality leaders these days.
It has been sometime since I wrote about senior citizen rights and privileges. I recall that, more than 10 years ago, I started to involve myself in this advocacy because of a problem I was experiencing in the use of my credit card.
In 2007, Mercury Drug did not honor the senior citizen discount using a credit card. The clerk would tell me — very politely, of course — that the discount was only for cash payments. After being informed of the problem, then Vice President Noli de Castro convened an emergency meeting attended by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, Finance Secretary Gary Teves, and Vivian Azcona, president of Mercury Drug. The meeting was productive and fruitful, and, a few days later, my credit card — and, I assume, that of other senior citizens — was honored with the full senior citizen discount of 20 percent.
I continue to stay in touch with our elderly. Recently, I received two letters from senior citizens Melvin Punzalan and Roberto Rejano. By coincidence, both of their letters dwelt on the same issue of promotional discounts being offered by business establishments for the general public.
Punzalan wrote that, since the senior citizen discount becomes irrelevant when the promo price—which is usually better—is offered and availed of, this means that business establishments no longer make a distinction between a senior citizen and a nonsenior citizen. Both are offered the same price for the same product.
In the case of Rejano, he narrated his experience at the Soho Café of Savoy Hotel, where a promo on the buffet lunch offered a 50-percent discount for all. He assumed that, as a senior citizen, he was still entitled to the 20-percent senior citizen discount on top of the regular 50-percent discount for all. Apparently, he was told that this was not possible. Likewise, Rejano felt that no distinction was being made between senior citizens and younger customers.
In an earlier column, I also stated that, on top of any promo offer, senior citizens should still be entitled to the senior citizen discount of 20 percent as provided by law.
Unfortunately, when the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 were issued, our views were not given due course. Instead, Article 9 (“No double discounts”) was included in the IRR. This article expressly states that “In the purchase of goods and services which are on promotional discounts, the senior citizen can avail of the establishment’s offered discount or the 20 percent provided herein, whichever is higher and more favorable.”
This rule is simply preposterous. No one in his right mind, senior citizen or nonsenior citizen, will choose the 20-percent discount as against the promotional discount—usually of 50 percent or higher — that is being offered by restaurants. This kind of illusory choice being presented as an advantage for senior citizens actually eliminates whatever distinction exists between the senior citizen and the nonseniors, and effectively discriminates against the senior citizen.
To give true meaning and value to the senior citizen law is to give seniors an advantage over younger citizens. That is precisely the reason for the enactment of this law — to give recognition and support to the elderly and provide them with certain advantages and benefits that come primarily because of age and disability.
We call on the Department of Social Welfare and Development to convene the interagency body chaired by the social welfare secretary for the purpose of reviewing and revising this provision, which makes a mockery of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Senior citizens should continue to register their objections to this ruling and undertake the necessary actions with their lawmakers, particularly in light of the coming elections. There are also Senior Citizen Party-List members who should support a review of this ruling.
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