A LOCAL legislator has reminded establishments, including pharmacies, to honor the 20 percent discount for senior citizens following a formal complaint filed by veteran journalist Manny Rabacal, along with several other complaints.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, Cebu City Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover, chairman of the committee on senior citizens, said that pharmaceutical stores failing to grant a 20 percent discount to senior citizens may risk potential closure.
According to Alcover, Rabacal, who writes a column for Superbalita Cebu, was denied the senior citizens’ benefits and privileges of a 20 percent discount in the purchase of a prescribed medicinal supplement last Jan. 18 from an organic products store inside a mall in Cebu City. His group called “Pundok Sugboanon Community” went to Alcover’s office on Monday, Jan. 29 to formally file a complaint signed by lawyer Fritz Quiñanola.
Alcover said Rabacal presented all the necessary documents during his purchase but was still denied his rights.
Alcover, also the chairman of Cebu City Senior Citizens Council, has already invited the store management for an appearance on Monday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. to hear its side , otherwise, he would bring the matter to the City Council. The invitation was sent on Tuesday, Jan. 30.
The councilor said this is not the only complaint he has received so far, but the problem is that previous complainants were afraid to file formal complaints, leaving them with no recourse for action.
He recalled experiencing the same incident before, prompting him to call the attention of the management of the pharmacy, explaining that the Cebu City Government could close its store if it fails to comply with the law regarding senior citizens’ discount.
The 20 percent discount benefits and privileges for senior citizens are provided in Republic Act (RA) 9994, also known as “An Act to Maximize the Contribution of Senior Citizens to Nation Building, Grant Benefits and Special Privileges and for other purposes.”
In section 4 of RA 9994–Privileges for the Senior Citizens, it is stated that senior citizens shall be entitled to
a “grant of 20 percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax, if applicable, on the sale of the following goods and services from all establishments, for the exclusive use and enjoyment or availment of the senior citizen.”
The discount also covers “the purchase of medicines, including the purchase of influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, and such other essential medical supplies, accessories and equipment to be determined by the Department of Health (DOH).”
Any person who refuses to honor the senior citizen card will suffer penalties of imprisonment of at least two years and a fine of at least P50,000.
In 2020, the DOH through Administrative Order 2012-0007-A amends a previous order. It includes vitamins and mineral supplements in the list of discounted medicines for senior citizens as long as it is prescribed by physicians and approved by the DOH and the Food and Drugs Administration.