Is the Philippine Senior Citizens' Discount For Foreigners Too?

Is the Philippine Senior Citizens' Discount For Foreigners Too?

This post will not go into detail about what the privileges of senior citizens are because it is pointless, as those privileges are off limits to non-citizens. 

The purpose of this article is to explain the pertinent sections of the referenced laws so that foreigners living in the Philippines do not make the mistake of violating the law in attempting to avail of benefits to which they are not entitled.

Who Is A Senior Citizen Under The Law? 

Republic Act 9994 also known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 amends Republic Act 7432 also known as the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003. Section 3 of RA 9994 defines the term "senior citizen" under the law:

(a) Senior citizen or elderly refers to any resident citizen of the Philippines at least sixty (60) years old;
That statement alone is very clear. It pertains to CITIZENS of the PHILIPPINES. 

You might be a senior and you might also be a citizen of some country, but if you are not a citizen of the Philippines, then you are not a senior citizen as defined by RA 9994.

Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9994 (same page as RA 9994 appended to the end):

Rule III Article 5 further defines who is an eligible "senior citizen" under the act:
5.1 SENIOR CITIZEN OR ELDERLY - refers to any Filipino citizen who is a resident of the Philippines, and who is sixty (60) years old or above. It may apply to senior citizens with "dual citizenship" status provided they prove their Filipino citizenship and have at least six (6) months residency in the Philippines.

This paragraph leaves no room for interpretation. If you are not a Filipino citizen, then you are not eligible.

Who Can Legally Issue A Senior Discount Card? 

Rule IV details who issues the Senior Citizens' ID/Benefit Card:

Article 6. OSCA-issued Senior Citizens' Identification Card. - For the availment of benefits and privileges under the Act and these Rules, the senior citizen, or his/her duly authorized representative, shall present as proof of eligibility, a valid and original Senior Citizens' Identification Card issued by the Head of the Office of Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) of the place where the senior citizen resides, and which shall be honored nationwide. 
In the past many foreigners may have been given discount cards by various municipal and or barangay officials. These cards are not valid. The person who issues such a card is violating the law simply by issuing the card, as the law is clear as to who gets one. This is not a discretionary matter.

Under Rule VII Penalties and other Sanctions:
Article 24. PENALTIES - Any person who refuses to honor the senior citizen card OR violates any provision of the Act and its Rules shall suffer the following penalties

Punishment For Those Who Illegally Benefit From The Senior Discount 

ANY person who violates ANY provision of RA 9994 and its IRR shall be subject to:

Section 3. Any person who abuses the privileges granted herein shall be punished with a fine of not less than fifty thousand pesos (Php 50,000.00) but not more than One hundred thousand pesos (Php 100,000.00) and imprisonment of not less than six (6) months.

Section 4. If the offender is an alien or a foreigner, he/she shall be deported immediately after service of sentence without further deportation proceedings.

Those foreigners who continue to take advantage of the senior citizen discount are violating the law. Their luck will run out eventually. Is it worth it?

Maybe the nice person trying to "help" you by giving you a discount card is trying to get you into trouble so you need to pay a bribe to get out of trouble.

Rumors About Changes To The Law Are Not Facts 

There are many rumors that go around about changes to the law, but you need to stop listening to rumors and learn first hand about the active law for yourself.

Like the United States, the Philippine Legislative Branch is bicameral. Therefore, a bill must be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It must then be signed by the President. The President can veto the bill and then the House can overturn the veto by a 2/3 vote in favor. Conversely, if the President does not act on the bill, then it automatically becomes law after 30 days. 

Senate Bill 2832 from 2018 is the document that a lot of websites are pointing to and saying foreigners can have the senior discount. This bill never passed the Philippine House AND Senate and it was never signed into law by the President. After a bill becomes law Implementing Rules and Regulations must then be promulgated. Senate Bill 2832 never became a law. 

The rumors about foreigners being eligible for senior citizens' benefits get started because someone hears about a bill that is being voted on. But no such bill has been passed to overturn RA 9994 and until that happens we are under the rules listed therein. 

The Legislative Process Of The Philippines  

The Bottom Line 

If you are a foreigner who is married to a person who is:

  • a Filipino citizen or 
  • they are a dual citizen of the Philippines and some other country (Rule III Article 5 of the IRR) 
  • that person is at least sixty (60) years old and 
  • has at least six (6) months residency in the Philippines

then your spouse may be eligible for the senior citizen benefits. But you are not. Not yet anyhow.

Follow the law and engage in due diligence to know and understand the laws as they pertain to you as a guest living in the Philippines. It is not worth risking a fine, jail and deportation just to get a 20 peso discount at McDonald's. 

But even if no one ever gets the book thrown at them isn't it better to just do right?


Unknown said...

Yet another example of how the philippines discriminates against foreigners who have become legally resident here through various routes. people who've faithfully paid all the numerous taxes for lenghty periods and receive nothing in return.

Anonymous said...

You are correct, sir. Not much justice to be found. If you want free stuff fly into Mexico and cross the US border. Make sure that you enter a Democrat area. Be sure to immediately begin asking where you can register to a Democrat of course. Money will be dropped on you like manna from heaven.

Anonymous said...

I do not get people who cry about Philippines saying you cannot have the senior discount. They have no problem with the Philippine laws that allow you to come live in the Philippines so you can take advantage of the cheap cost of living. For years sick and overweight foreigners came to the Philippines and took advantage of cheap Philhealth and medical care. They were raping the system. Then Philhealth raised the price to about $300 a year and the outcry of 300 lb foreign drinkers and smokers was monumental. This entitlement mentality of foreigners is pathetic. It is as bad as Filipinos who think they have a right to walk across the US border and get seat at the public trough. Philippines has every right to give its own citizens a discount and exclude you just as the US has a right to a strong border. The communists need to get a job and stop whining.