PAGASA Position Paper on Expanded Senior Citizen Act of 2003
Written by William Villanueva   
Saturday, 28 May 2005

We applaud the respect accorded to the senior citizens of our society but would like to bring up the following points regarding the guidelines to implement Rule V, Section 14 of the IRR of R.A, 9257, otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act 2003.

1.) Section 3. Supermarkets or Food Retailers can never afford to offer the 20% discount to senior citizens noble as the act may seem. The Supermarket Industry averages around 3 to 5% mark-up for basic necessities and prime commodities especially for PAGASA members who cater to the mass market. This privilege for senior citizens is from the very beginning destined to be abused by the unscrupulous in our society be they senior citizens or not.

2.) Section 3…..”for the exclusive use of the senior citizens.” This premise will find difficulty in practice as anyone accompanying a senior citizen entitled to the proposed discounts may misuse/abuse the privilege of the said senior citizen by asking the latter to buy the needs of the younger person. Some senior citizens today apply for cards from as many cities/municipalities as they can apply from; there being no mechanism to stop a senior citizen from doing so as there is no counterchecking amongst localities regarding registration of senior citizen cards. In fact, there appear to be many cases of people not qualified for the card in terms of age but fraudulently applying for one, if not more than one! There is a need for a centralized checking station to find out if a card for a particular person has already been issued in any other municipality in this country. The Government may out-source this safety measure and have an I.T. company charge the applicant a minimal amount when he applies for a card. One may say that an indigent senior citizen may not afford this fee (this is where DSWD or NGO’s help out) but the savings to be reaped by them will justify the minimal amount to be paid for the card. Also, cards have to be renewed yearly to check on the authenticity/veracity of user it being that he/she is already of senior age. This will prevent the use of cards of deceased card-holders if/when cards expire.

3.) Section 4. The proposed booklet will not keep a good check on whether the aggregate gross amount of P2,500.00 per month has been used up or used beyond as some abusers will have more than one booklet to use. Again, an I.T. company can help in developing the proper check and safeguard on this.

4.) Section 7. Organized crime syndicates will immediately pounce on this appointed representative clause and abuse it to the limit. Who can verify the authenticity of a supposed letter of authority from a senior citizen? For all one knows a senior citizen may have long been dead but his card and counterfeit letter still used from one store to another day-to-day! Denial of an establishment to a representative will surely cause the store a lot of time wasted in argument (as there is hardly a way to verify) and humiliation/negative publicity as representative denied will surely throw vindictives at the store for the denial. There must be some way for the establishment to clearly identify a senior citizen and his authorized representatives. Otherwise, a senior citizen may even reprimand/suspect a store for conniving with a fellow who uses his senior citizen card without his consent ( but has a fake letter of authority).

5.) Section 9. Supermarkets, especially PAGASA members who cater to the masses, will find great difficulty in giving citizens a 20% discount for basic necessities and prime commodities even if they can claim the discounts as tax deductions since only a third of these discounts are entitled as tax deductions. This will be a great source of loss in revenues for supermarket operators even if the qualified and authorized senior citizens availed of the said discounts. What more if the criminal syndicates used these to avail of discounts to resell to other smaller stores (a 20% discount is unheard of for supermarket items).

6.) Section 10. How does an establishment apprehend a violator of this Act? What authority or power does a store have in detaining a guy for misusing/abusing a senior citizens card or even for a senior citizen who abuses his card(s)! The penalties and imprisonment sentences sound fine but will anyone even be penalized for this violation? How does a store apprehend? Call the police? For this, the establishment is always on the losing end as the public will always favor an old man (especially an old woman), cranky or not, over a younger store employee who’s trying to accost the senior citizen for wrong doing/abuse.

We hope we have cited here some key points to review the Guidelines set to implement Rule V, Section 14 of the IRR of Republic Act 9257 otherwise known as the Expanded Senior Citizen Act of 2003.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 March 2008 )