By Filane Mikee Cervantes
MANILA – The chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday said existing laws granting senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) a 20-percent discount should be amended to cover promotional discounts offered by establishments.
During the motu proprio inquiry into the alleged refusal of some businesses to grant discounts and incentives to senior citizens in violation of existing laws, committee chair and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said senior citizens and PWDs should also get the promo discounts on top of the government-mandated discount.
“Discounts should still apply to the promo. The general public gets 30 percent and this special sector also gets 30 percent? So, where is the preference there?,” he said.
He said the confusion regarding the application of discounts where promotional offers already apply should be clarified and corrected.
Republic Act (RA) 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, as amended, RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, entitles PWDs, senior citizens, and solo parents with discounts, tax exemptions, and other incentives.
Salceda also pointed out the absence of a mechanism for availing the mandated discounts online on some shopping platforms.
Salceda proposed the creation of an office equivalent to the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) and the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) for solo parents.
He said sufficient revenue streams should be created to fund comprehensive social safety nets to address the needs of the identified sectors.
House Committee on Senior Citizens chair Rodolfo Ordanes stressed the need to address implementation gaps for “a more compassionate society that genuinely honors and cares for these valued members of our community.”
Ordanes said several bills were already filed seeking to expand the coverage for items where discounts may be availed of.
Salceda reported that his panel would tackle these measures to come up with a comprehensive enhanced benefits program for senior citizens, PWDs, and solo parents.
Speaker Martin Romualdez called for an investigation into reports of senior citizens and PWDs being denied of discounts under existing laws.
During the hearing, Starbucks Philippines apologized for the “erroneous signage” that limited the grant of the mandated 20-percent discount to senior citizens and PWDs to only one food item and one beverage per visit.
“We fully acknowledge the error in the signage. We remain steadfast in extending privilege as intended,” Starbucks Philippines operations director Angela Cole said. (PNA)