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Seniors, PWDs complain of denied discounts, benefits -gov't agencies

Thousands of complaints were filed regarding establishments that denied senior citizens and persons with disabilities their discounts and benefits, concerned agencies said on Tuesday.

In a House inquiry, the National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) said it received around 5,700 complaints in the past two years.

“We received 5,711 complaints and broke down into almost 2,000 for the senior citizens' complaints on benefits as well as social pensions,” NCSC Chairperson Franklin Quijano said.

The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) said that it received 154 complaints and inquiries regarding denied discounts in some establishments last year.

“In 2023 alone, 154 complaints or queries were received by the NCDA pertaining to discounts. Of these 154, 127 specified the establishments complained of,” NCDA Programs Management Division chief Rhealeth Krizelle Ramos said.

During the joint inquiry of the Committee on Ways and Means, senior citizens, as well as PWDs, and representatives from some of the concerned establishments promised to comply with the law.

Under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act and Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of PWDs, beneficiaries are entitled to a 20% discount and exemption from value-added tax on some goods and services.

The House committees and stakeholders discussed forming a reporting and enforcement mechanism for the implementation of the senior citizen and PWD discounts.

They also discussed how discounts should be accessible in transport services such as in toll fees through the Radio Frequency Identification system in expressways and airfares via online booking.

Online discount

Meanwhile, the House committees said they would outline a proposed law for the implementation of discounts for online fare booking and purchases after they found out that senior citizens and PWDs were having difficulties availing of their entitled discounts.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda attempted to book a flight with a discount during the hearing but to no avail, Tina Panganiban-Perez reported on “24 Oras.”

“It is not difficult to just put an additional item in the purchase platform. The NCDA and the NCSC have decided to call a meeting next week so that our IT including the DICT may be able to guide us,” said Quijano.

As for the proposed senior citizen and PWD discounts in tollways, the operators expressed support but said they would have to study the proposal.

“Hindi po gaya ng pagbili ng groceries and medicine na ipinakikita po yung senior citizens ID,” said Rafael Yabut of San Miguel Corporation.

(This isn’t like buying groceries and medicine when you would only have to present your senior citizen ID.)

Hotel operators, for their part, lamented some issues on the use of the IDs for senior citizens, and PWDs.

“The proliferation of fake IDs or the 1,700 different types of PWD cards which is quite difficult to compare with any national registry,” said Patrick Chan of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines.

The NCDA admitted the national registry of the Department of Health (DOH) for PWDs was not updated.

Of the 1.5 million PWDs registered in PWD affairs offices in local government units (LGUs), more than 1.3 million were recorded in the national registry. — DVM, GMA Integrated News