MANILA, Philippines — Commercial establishments cannot tell senior citizens and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) that they are not entitled to twenty percent discounts, just because the products and services at the outlets are on sale or ‘on sale’.
Attempts to deny the rights of the elderly and PWDs are illegal when promotions do not have approval from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The Philippine Consumer Law (Article 116 of Republic Act 7394) clearly states that before launching the sales promotion campaign, any person or company must first obtain permission from the DTI.
Based on this, elderly Melinda Rada filed a complaint with the Pasig Public Prosecutor’s Office.
His charge read: “The purpose of RA 7394 in regulating the sales promotion of any business is to prevent consumers from being deceived by any establishment that claims that its prices or rates are already on promotion.”
Without DTI regulation, “it will be very easy for any establishment to claim that their prices or rates are on sale and discounts will no longer be given to seniors,” Rada said.
She was assisted by her lawyer, lawyer Rômulo Macalintal, when she went to sue the hotel.
Rada narrated that he stayed at the hotel with his elderly sister on November 25, 2022.
At check-out on November 27, 2022, she requested 12% value added tax (VAT) exemption and 20% discount as a senior citizen.
These rights are guaranteed by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Elderly Law 2010.
However, the hotel refused to grant him the discounts, claiming that the rate was supposedly on “promotion”.
However, no evidence was presented by the hotel when asked to prove that the promotion is authorized by the DTI.
Rada, through his lawyer, wrote a letter to the hotel management.
The hotel, in turn, responded by offering a 20% discount, with an overnight stay and breakfast for two.
Rada refused the offer.
She instead set the following conditions:
1. All branches of the hotel must post notices in all their reception/counter areas, informing that seniors and people with disabilities (PWD) are entitled to a 12 percent VAT exemption and 20 percent discounts for seniors/ PCD, if promotional rates are not permitted. by DTI;
2. The hotel must inform the Hotel Owners Association of the Philippines about these benefits required by law and what is declared by law;
3. The hotel must donate the amount of P250,000 to any senior citizen organization to partially alleviate the damage caused by the hotel to other senior citizens “to whom the hotel, intentionally or unintentionally, denied their discounts in a promotion not approved by the DTI . ”
The hotel responded by saying it had allegedly conducted employee training.
It also claimed to have informed the Philippine Hotel Owners Association about the benefits.
However, it remained silent on Rada’s call for hotel branches to post notices on their reception desks that seniors and PWDs are entitled to 12 percent VAT exemption and 20 percent senior discount /PWD, if a promotion does not have DTI approval.
The hotel also rejected a proposal for the hotel to make a donation to any senior citizen organization.
In its letter, the hotel states: “The denial of the benefit to your customer was not intentional or malicious, but rather due to our misunderstanding of the rate, which, however, we immediately corrected.”
The case was referred to the DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) for mediation.
Thus, a certificate was issued to file the action, which led Rada to take the case to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Under the law, if the offender is a company, those responsible for management will be responsible.
Violation of the Elder Law imposes a penalty of not more than P100,000 and imprisonment of not less than two years but not more than six years.