Resto faces raps for not giving seniors discount

Posted on March 18, 2012

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For failing to provide a 20 percent discount to an elderly customer, a popular eco-tourism destination in Liloan town, northern Cebu, faces the prospect of being haled to court.

The Cebu Provincial Prosecutor’s Office said Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing Lagoon and its former cashier face charges of violating Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Seniors Citizens Act of 2010.

The charges against cashier Grace Soco and the restaurant as represented by its human resource department manager Larry Atentar will be elevated to the Municipal Trial Court (MTC).

“Noteworthy is the fact that a special law is involved in the instant complaint. Violators cannot even invoke good faith or lack of ill-motive …,” said Asst. City Prosecutor Annabelle Robles in a resolution secured by Cebu Daily News.

Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing Lagoon located at Silot Bay, barangay Poblacion in Liloan town covers more than 90 hectares of property and is considered a top eco-tourism destination in Cebu.

The issue stemmed from a complaint filed by Venancio Labiano Jr., a retiree based in Zamboanga Sibugay, Mindanao.

Entire bill

Labiano and his family went to Papa Kit’s to celebrate his daughter’s birthday and another daughter’s homecoming.

When their bill was presented, Labiano gave his Senior Citizens Card but Soco allegedly didn’t honor it.

Soco explained to Labiano that they couldn’t grant a senior citizens discount since they opened their restaurant only last Aug. 2010.

After a confrontation, Labiano paid the bill without any discount. It was not known how much Labiano paid for the meal.

The restaurant, through Atentar and Soco, submitted their counter-affidavits to refute the allegations.

Atentar said Labiano claimed that the 20 percent senior citizen discount should apply to the entire bill.

Soco, the restaurant’s former cashier, insisted that the senior citizens discount applies to Labiano alone.

Exclusive

To avoid trouble, the respondents opted to deduct the 20 percent discount on the full amount of the bill.
However, Atentar said it was Labiano who didn’t want the discount and instead paid the full bill.

The prosecutor said the restaurant should have granted the 20 percent discount to Labiano regardless of whether he claimed it or not.

“After he (Labiano) with the presentation of his Senior Citizens Identification Card, the obligation to grant the discount rests upon the merchant, which in this case, are the respondents,” Robles said.

But she said the respondents were right when they claimed that the 20 percent discount applies exclusively to the concerned senior citizen.

“It is just unfortunate that in this instance, they desisted from granting the discount,” Robles said.

Section 4 of RA 9994 states that senior citizens shall be entitled to the grant of 20 percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax (VAT), if applicable, on the sale of the following goods and services from all establishments.

Reluctance

But the law stated that the benefits are for the exclusive use and enjoyment of senior citizens.

A Cebu-based consumer’s rights group said the Senior Citizens Act lacks support from Cebu’s local government units (LGUs).

Vic Sapio, president of the Consumer Rights for Economic Welfare ( CREW), said most senior citizens hesitate to assert their rights due to the inconvenience and the expenses entailed in filing charges against the violators.

It is this reluctance of senior citizens to file charges that made these restaurants and establishments confident that they won’t be entangled in legal disputes.

“Establishments who won’t honor the law should be penalized,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Sapio said their group is willing to provide legal assistance to senior consumers.

Provincial Board (PB) member Arleigh Sitoy, who chairs the Senior Citizen’s committee, said the Expanded Senior Citizens Act is a national law that should be enforced by the LGUs.

“It is a national law. There is not much local legislation we can do except through resolution. Implementation should be done by the executive branch, which are the national and local government units,” he said. /Ador Vincent Mayol and Candeze R. Mongaya, Reporters with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus

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