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?

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. 

The Legislative Process Of The Philippines

After a bill becomes law Implementing Rules and Regulations must then be promulgated.

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 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?

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