Two-wheels of fortune | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Two-wheels of fortune

/ 04:22 PM January 19, 2024

It seems like a leading multinational TNVS has its sights set on the kmotorcycle taxi industry. As far back as 2016, it has already tried to unsuccessfully insert itself in the industry and eventually was not included in the LTFRB pilot program for habal habals in 2019.
Fast forward to present day.  
After repeated failed tries to enter the industry, this ride hailing Asian juggernaut finally acquired one of the accredited MC taxi operators in 2022 and is now the de facto fourth MC Taxi operator. Note that even an order from the LTFRB in 2020 and current cries of “foul” from concerned groups, the Philippine Competition Commission, and even Congress have failed to derail its ambitions.
A high-ranking transport official intimated to Sharp Edges that this TNVS company has been using its close relations with the higher ups to allow the not only their entry but market domination with a second franchise under their belt.
What is it about the MC taxi industry that this foreign company (pretending to be local) cannot seem to let go and just allow Filipino companies to reap the gains from being of service to their countrymen?
It seems like there truly is money to be had in the business of a taxi service on two-wheels as this company is willing to circumvent laws, throw its weight around, and push everyone to get its way. (next topic)
Title:  Rampant disregard of Senior citizens/PWD discounts must stop
According to Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2020, seniors have “20 percent discount and exemption from the value -added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the goods and services from all establishments, for his exclusive use and enjoyment or availment”.
These include medicine, health professional fees, medical and dental services, transport fees, prices of products and services offered by business establishments, admission fees in arts centers, and funeral/burial costs.
In principle, restaurants should provide 20 percent discount for the sale of food, drinks and dessert and other consumable items served , including value meals and promotional meals. The amount to be computed should be the amount less 12 percent VAT. The discounts should also apply to dine in, take out and take home orders (not bulk orders)  as long as the senior citizen is present  and personally showing his ID. For phoned-in  or called-in delivery orders, the 20 percent senior citizen discount and 12 percent VAT exemption apply.
Clear on paper but on the ground , numerous establishments continue to victimize our senior citizens and PWDs. Case in point is a 5 star hotel in Pasig now facing closure by the city LGU after denying  a discount  in November 2022 citing an ongoing promotion to a woman senior citizen. Pasig city prosecutors ruled that the hotel president and finance director violated  the Expanded Seniors act law and the Consumer Act , and filed the case at the Pasig MTC with  bail set at P36,000 each.
These “promo rates” of  establishments, are presented by  firms citing “double discounts” and therefore the senior discount will not apply.  But here , we must be very clear that these claimed promos should first secure permission from the DTI prior to implementation.  And if the promo has a DTI approval,  senior citizens should be given the OPTION  to purchase , through their mandated senior discount OR  the promos offered, but the most favorable  option to the senior citizen must prevail.
Another controversy is the Starbucks Philippines,  operated locally by the Rustan’s Coffee corporation. They posted a sign limiting senior citizens to one drink and one food . This went viral and triggered a congressional investigation. Its operations director Angela Cole, acknowledged their mistake and apologized for the confusion .  But some legislators went ballistic over these demeaning outlook towards senior citizens. Ways and means committee chair Joey Sarte Salceda said, a violation has been committed and  this  must not go unpunished. “In our next hearing, I will move for the filing of the appropriate  case against Starbucks Philippines”.  .
A lot of other senior citizens voiced out complaints on the big disparity of  prices of their  medicines from drugstores. Initial examination reveal that one drug company complies with the rules of 20 percent discount and  less 12 value added tax (VAT) . Other companies  however only deducts the 20 percent senior discount, thus in clear violation of the law.
Penalties for people or companies who refuse senior citizen discounts, under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, will pay fines from P50,000 to P200,000, depending on the repetition of the violation. Imprisonment of two years to six years may also be imposed.
Overall, this discounting process are filled with  unclear issues , such as fake  LGU issued IDs and the  leakages in “tax accounting “ of  establishments.  Before the pandemic, there were  78,000 registered PWDs in Quezon city but with the  introduction of new automated systems, the number decreased to 52,000. This means that as much as 1/3 of  PWD IDs are fake.
Rep. Salceda says “social discounts and privileges  are a shared cost between the government and the rest of society, made necessary by the absence of comprehensive social safety net, especially for dignified old age”. “But  the long term solution remains the creation of enough revenue streams to fund comprehensive social safety nets that address the current and future needs of PWDs and senior citizens”. .

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