top of page

Starve Acts

I used to feel that talking about this issue would be petty when standing alongside other concerns like charter change, confidential funds or territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea. But when I came to think of it, it is a violation of a law. It may not be blatant and bloody or sensuously sensational, but it is still violation. I’m actually gladly surprised that it went all the way to the Senate and national TV. Nowadays, national news isn’t merely nationwide anymore, but it’s actually international as it stands on the Internet as its platform.

I almost feel sorry for the person whom I believe was the designated spokesperson for this coffee shop company who was trying her best to explain their reasons for limiting the orders that senior citizens could make at their shops. Is it just one shop or many or all shops? I’m not too sure. I was listening to her trying too hard to apologize for and justify the same action at the same time. She was asking the senators and the public for understanding for what seemingly she refers to as a misunderstanding, and at the same time, defending their policy and the rationale behind it. She was trying too hard to get out of a hole through which she could not actually fit. Imagine that imagery.

Basically, it was about the injustice of limiting the orders that senior citizens (and by association, persons with disability) could make at food shops, to prevent them from using their discount and exemption from VAT. It caught attention because this coffee shop posted a visible sign about the limits and supposedly, a certain frustrated senior citizen decided to do something about it. This isn’t really something new. There has been somewhat prevalent disregard for the senior citizen/PWD discount from transport fare to food shops. To some extent, I guess, one could say, that there has been a similar prevalent disregard for “giving way” for the elderly and people with difficulties. In recent years, transport fare increase has been relatively quicker than in past decades. Automatically, when fare climbs up to P13, fare for senior citizens, PWDs and students would be 80% of that amount. If it gets adjusted to P 15, the same would be true. But drivers would act ignorant, giving excuses that there has to be some sort of tariff rate posted on their vehicles for them to implement the discount, or for some announcement for them to give the discount. When a student/PWD/senior citizen passes fare to the driver and tells him “estudyante” or “pWD” or “senior”, when change is given back, the discount doesn’t show. The trick is to give the exact discounted amount of P 11 to the driver. Then, he wouldn’t be able to do much more than to grumble silently to himself. I had had arguments with drivers on its legality and automatic implementation. Upon declaring myself as PWD, I had been mockingly and arrogantly asked of ID which I quickly flashed close to the driver’s face. I imagine, would you ask for ID from someone whom you trust to truly carry that ID. Who would claim to be PWD just to get a few pesos discount from a regular tricycle ride? I’m PWD because I’m PWD. I believe, the same would be true for students and seniors. Since we’re at the topic of public transport, regular passengers can’t seem to understand that the designated space for PWDs, senior citizens and pregnant women are “actually” for PWDs, senior citizens and pregnant women, that they have to scoot over and make way when a person with disability, senior citizen or pregnant woman climbs up the jeepney or the bus for a ride.

I often wonder why some food shops give little discount and some give the actual 20% and the actual exemption from VAT. But I usually don’t have time to argue, and I would rather let it go, and enjoy the food and the company I’m with. I have often been given the excuse that the meal or product is on promo and subsequently can not be discounted. There is no legal provision for promos. The thing is they have to discount whatever the price is. But whatever, I get the idea that they don’t want to give a discount, so okay, they could keep that 20% and VAT for themselves.

But underneath the neglect of the implementation of the discount, is the prevalent disregard for the welfare of senior citizens and persons with disability, for elderliy and persons with difficlty. It’s not just the discount. People in line would hesitate to let an elderly person through. Passengers would dilly-dally in giving a seat to a person with crutches in a crowded bus. That’s the real root cause of all this. We don’t care enough, if we care at all to extend assistance to those who need it. Maybe, traditionally, we were a caring nation. But presently, maybe, we’re not as much as we should be.

Isaiah 46:4: “The Hope of the Elderly I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you””

bottom of page