Restaurateurs are struggling to stay afloat after the pandemic pushed the industry to a standstill and caused a wave of global economic decline. Aside from dealing with plummeting sales, businesses have sometimes also had to deal with the alleged abuse of discount privileges, particularly those of senior citizens’ and persons with disabilities’ (PWDs).
A Viber group of more than 800 restaurateurs expressed concerns on the rising number of fake IDs of senior citizens and PWDs amid the crisis following a Facebook post urging customers entitled to these discounts to refrain from using them to help restaurants. Aside from falsifying identification to avail of discounts, foodservice stakeholders are also experiencing issues on the vagueness of implementing guidelines regarding such discounts.
There were also instances that when asked to present the OSCA (Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs) Purchase Booklet, a requirement as stated in Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (dubbed the “Senior Citizen Law”), some senior citizen customers were angered.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reveals in a 2016 survey that 12 percent of the country’s population accounts for PWDs. Restaurant owner Eric Teng told of his experience to ANCX in which a table of nine family members (including children) all had PWD IDs, mostly indicating “musculoskeletal,” “visual,” and “psychosocial” disabilities. He also recalled an instance when three PWD cards from the same table declared “visual impairment,” two of which even showed identical ID numbers.
In the same article, The French Baker and Lartizan’s Johnlu Koa also had an experience in which a person his age (he was 54 years old at the time) had a senior citizen card and availed of a discount. There were also instances that when asked to present the OSCA (Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs) purchase booklet, a requirement stated in Republic Act No. 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 (dubbed the “Senior Citizen Law”), some senior citizen customers got angry.
While the law intends to help senior citizens and PWDs, business owners must also be protected from those who reportedly abuse it given that they shoulder the 20 percent discount on their tabs
Marites Ang of King Chef recalls a time when seniors tried to avail of the 20 percent discount despite the 33 to 50 percent off promo that was already placed in her menu. According to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9994, senior citizen discounts cannot be applied on already discounted meals or meals on promo.
Ang also said that a senior once ordered six dishes good for 12 persons but insisted that the restaurant apply the discount on the bulk she ordered instead of what she just consumed. The Act clearly states that senior citizen benefits only apply to the individual share of the senior citizen and not to the whole group the discount holder is dining with. Despite this, the diner claimed she will simply consume everything and refused to pay for the food that was already served unless the discounts were applied.
R.A. 9994 states that senior citizen benefits only apply to the individual share of the senior citizen and not to the whole group the discount holder is dining with.
While the law intends to help senior citizens and PWDs, business owners must also be protected given that they shoulder the 20 percent discount on their tabs—which, in the current diminishing margins and resources, already equates to a lot.
This misuse can harm the industry, especially those in smaller sectors. Ang Probinsyano party-list representative Ronnie Ong says that R.A. 10754 or An Act Expanding The Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability only provides few safeguards to abuse, which is why he, along with ACT-CIS party-list representative Eric Yap, suggested that applicants undergo a “screening process” for qualification.
They are urging the Department of Health and the National Commission on Disability Affairs to review old PWD cards before issuing new ones and to create an automated system for easier and faster verification of PWD IDs. The Department of Trade and Industry, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, is also looking into the current issue.