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LKI Press Statement 2021-008
March 9, 2021
Consumer group seeks Anti Red Tape Authority assistance on discounts to seniors and pwds online purchases
In a recent press release , Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI), said that they “filed a complaint report against the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Trade and Industry before the Anti-Red Tape Authority for inaction and failure to comply with earlier commitments to act on calls to draft guidelines for online discounts for senior citizens and PWDs.”
“It looks like [the commitments] of the DTI and DSWD have been lip service,” Vic Dimagiba, president of consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. said in his statement and release, as well as in interviews with online media and radio .
“Up to now [there has been no] public consultation on online shopping guidelines for seniors privileges,” the lawyer also said, calling for quicker action and resolution in order to ensure consumer welfare during the prolonged pandemic, where senior citizens and the poor are still suffering and enduring through the lockdowns.
To recall, the group in an October 26 , 2020letter addressed to Wilma Naviamos of the DSWD urged the government to craft guidelines allowing senior citizens and persons with disability to avail of their discounts and benefits in e-commerce purchases.
The Anti-Red Tape Authority is a body under the Office of the President mandated to “ensure compliance with the national policy on anti-red tape and ease of doing business in the country.”
“Most senior citizens and persons with disabilities above 65 years old purchase food items and other goods online and are not able to claim the discounts granted by law. In most cases, the merchants do not know what and how to grant the discounts,” Dimagiba wrote in his letter and statement to the media.
Dimagiba stressed that “clear and easy, convenient implementation” of discounts for senior citizens would be timely amid the difficulties brought on by the coronavirus-induced lockdown and “the dwindling resources both in the economy and for individual consumers.”
“The letter was acknowledged, the DSWD Secretary was quoted on social media that he had requested the DTI to craft the guidelines. Further, in a much-publicized TV interview, the DTI committed to issuing the guidelines before the end of December 2020” LKI said in its complaint sent to ARTA, a copy of which was provided and shared with the media.
“However, up to now no such guidelines and mechanics have been issued neither a call for public consultation has been done. We are requesting the ARTA intervention that this matter be resolved soon,” it also said, reiterating the urgency of the situation.
The Anti-Red Tape Authority has since acknowledged receipt of the complaint, though no update or response has yet been given.
A separate email from the National Council on Disability Affairs in response to the first letter also said: “Please be informed that Section 11 of RA 10754 states that Person with Disability discount can be availed upon presentation of the Person with Disability ID card to the establishments.”
“However, the discount is not applicable to online purchases which only provides delivery service that connects local businesses to people. Delivery charges are not included in the 20% discount application,” it added.
LKI stressed that the urgency of action is requested and called upon because during the pandemic, the need to assist the senior citizens and those living in poverty is emphasized even more. For reference… In an earlier study published in July, think tank the Philippine Institute for Development Studies found that many senior citizens struggle with poverty, with about 890,000 or 13.2% belonging to families classified by the government as income poor while another 400,000 or around 4.3% of them are recorded as food poor.
“The money equivalent to the 20 percent discount of the senior citizens may be utilized for the medicine and other maintenance expenses as well as other necessities,” the group said.