Wake Up, Philippines!

Of senior citizens and the disabled

Posted in Disabled, DTI, OSCA, Senior Citizens by Erineus on May 18, 2009

By Ramon J. Farolan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:11:00 05/18/2009

here is an interesting twist to the plight of some senior citizens who feel their complaints are not being attended to by government offices, like the Department of Trade and Industry and the local Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA). When government institutions are unresponsive to the plight of our people, it is left to media to try to help them out.

Last month, Antonio Chong wrote about his experience with Bizu Patisserie and Café located at the Alabang Town Center in Muntinlupa City.

“As a father and senior citizen, I enjoy the small pleasures in life such as occasionally receiving a gift certificate from my son who is in the United States. Last Saturday, April 18, at around 9:30 to 10 pm, I brought my family to the Bizu Patisserie and Cafe for the purpose of consuming a gift certificate sent by my son. It was a celebration of sorts because my youngest son had just passed the Bar, and would be taking his oath of office as a new lawyer.

“When our bill was presented, I naturally gave them my senior card and that of my wife. And then I gave them the two gift certificates each amounting to P500 as payment. The cashier looked at our senior cards and said, they could not honor our senior cards because of our mode of payment. When I asked for an explanation, the cashier Ms Maritess Norambaba insisted that it was their policy not to grant a senior citizen discount if payment was through a gift certificate. I explained to the cashier and asked her to call up her boss, explaining to them that a gift certificate was in fact better than cash because it was bought and paid for in advance. She called her boss, Mr. Aaron Tarko, who offered instead to give me a P40 discount. I naturally refused to accept the token discount offered. I considered the P40 as a consuelo de bobo of the restaurant to shut up an old man.

“To cut a long story short, I paid with the gift certificate without any senior citizen discount. Since in the past, nothing ever came out of my complaints to DTI and other offices I thought maybe I should write to you this time.”

This is the first time this type of transaction has been brought to our attention. Tony Chong does not mention who issued the gift certificate and the conditions covering the use of the said certificate. For example, Rustan’s issues gift certificates, but they are good only for use at Rustan’s outlets. The writer also does not mention how much of their total bill was for the benefit of senior citizens in his party.

What puzzles me is that Bizu accepted the gift certificates as payment but without allowing the senior citizen discount. My feeling is that if the gift certificate was treated like legal tender, there is no reason why the senior citizen discount should not be applicable. Oftentimes our laws do not cover every possible situation—in this case, the use of the gift certificates. Common sense and sound discretion are most important in the fair resolution of this type of incidents.

* * *

The suggestions of Bernardo V. Peralta of Cebu City regarding amendments to the Senior Citizen law in order to make it more beneficial for the elderly members of society are well-taken.

In particular, as Mr. Peralta has pointed out, there is need for the local OSCAs to be given prosecutorial powers so that the office can forcefully go after violators of the law. Right now, business establishments are not afraid of the complaints being filed with OSCA because they know that nothing much would happen, except possibly the inconvenience of having to reply to the notices being issued by OSCA.

The suggestion for a special court to be designated by the Supreme Court to hear senior citizen law violations is also warranted. At this time, when the implementation of the law is spotty and ineffective, there is need for a few examples of violators who disregard the rights of senior citizens, being punished.

Of course, the most important amendment would be to raise the senior citizen discount to 32 percent, since the imposition of the 12 percent EVAT practically reduced the discount to only 8 percent.

* * *

Friends of former President Fidel V. Ramos called to say that he was on the cover of Time Magazine, Asia edition, on May 15, 1995. My apologies.

* * *

A few weeks ago, I noted the 17th anniversary of the passage of the “Magna Carta for Persons With Disabilities.” The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), under Mrs. Lovely Romulo, continues to advance the cause of our disabled, providing them with opportunities for integration into the mainstream of community life.

With so many unemployed these days, it has become even more difficult for the disabled in our society to find any kind of meaningful work. In pursuit of social responsibilities, many companies employ persons with disabilities. Let me mention some of them so as to create a greater awareness of the generous assistance being extended by the business sector to our less fortunate citizens.

The Lamoiyan Corporation employs 12 deaf mutes who are regular employees of the company. They are aged 22 to 55 years, and are in production and maintenance work. Most are high school graduates and have been with the company from two to 20 years.

Drugmaker’s Laboratories in San Pedro, Laguna, employs 10 regular and five casual employees who are deaf mutes, out of approximately 500 company workers. Most are high school graduates and they hold key and technical positions in tableting and packaging. The company is engaged in the production of an array of pharmaceutical products, household items, glass cleaners and toll products. What’s surprising is that these disabled workers receive a higher daily wage than the minimum in the area.

The Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC), specifically the Central Mail Exchange Center (CMEC), has 27 deaf mutes as employees, both male and female, working as mail sorters, dispatchers and checkers. They have been working in the agency for more than 15 years and were hired during the time of postmaster general J. Roilo Golez. Perhaps, the current president and general manager, Hector Villanueva, can add a few more to the payroll of the PPC.

The University of Santo Tomas (UST), College of Fine Arts and Design, has four faculty members with disabilities. They are all orthopedically handicapped persons (polio victims) who started their faculty work during the term of Dean Jaime delos Santos.

Personal Collections is a corporation engaged in direct selling of various consumer merchandise nationwide. Their National Capital Region branch recently hired five persons with disabilities—mostly, polio-afflicted—as trainees. They do invoicing, inventory checking and other types of clerical work.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090518-205599/Of-senior-citizens-and-the-disabled

Useful Site: http://www.parentscaringforparents.blogspot.com

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