Manager gets jail term for refusing to give 20% senior citizen’s discount
DUMAGUETE CITY, Negros Oriental, Philippines — Score another one for the seniors.
The general manager of the Silliman University (SU) Cooperative was sentenced to up to three years in prison and fined P50,000 for refusing to give the mandatory 20-percent discount to a senior citizen who had bought soft drinks.
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros Oriental Branch 32 here affirmed the decision of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 2 sentencing Roberto Estoconing to an “indeterminate penalty of two years as minimum to three years as maximum and a fine of P50,000.”
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Manuel Utzurrum Jr. against Estoconing for refusing to grant him the 20-percent discount when Utzurrum bought soft drinks at the cooperative eight times in 2011.
Utzurrum wrote Estoconing three letters but never got a reply. He decided to file complaints in the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs and in the Barangay 5 office here where the cooperative is located.
Estoconing countered that Utzurrum, as an SU Coop member, already enjoyed incentives higher than the 20-percent senior citizens discount, like the annual patronage fund, the annual interest on his capital deposit and a credit privilege to get goods from the cooperative.
He also said that since cooperatives had to pay tax, any discount given to customers would have to be absorbed as losses that could lead to bankruptcy.
MTCC Branch 2 Judge Maria Corazon Gadugdug, however, convicted Estoconing.
Estoconing appealed the ruling in the RTC, claiming that Utzurrum was covered by the no-double discount provision of the law and that cooperatives were exempt from the Senior Citizens Act.
RTC Branch 32 Judge Roderick Maxino upheld the MTCC and said Estoconing’s “intentional violation” of Republic Act No. 9994, or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act, was a “classic example of undermining the rights of a senior citizen.”
Maxino said Estoconing’s argument prohibiting double discounts was “misplaced” and he had misconstrued the law.
Maxino cited Article 9 as referring to instances of promotional discounts where the senior citizen could either avail themselves of the promo or the 20-percent mandatory discount, whichever is more favorable.
Maxino also wrote that the law did not make a distinction between a cooperative and a non-cooperative business establishment.
“What are exempt from the senior citizens discount are children’s meals,” the judge said.
It will be recalled that recently, a prominent election lawyer sued an international hotel chain in the country after he failed to get a senior’s discount on top of a hotel promo discount. The lawyer and the hotel came to an amicable settlement, but the Department of Trade and Industry still came out with a ruling that the hotel was in the wrong for not granting both discounts.
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