By Zaldy De Layola

GROCERY DISCOUNTS. Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez meets with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials at the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Feb. 27, 2023). DTI Undersecretary Carolina Sanchez said the department is amenable to Romualdez’s request for the grant of additional discounts on groceries for senior citizens and persons with disabilities. (Photo from the House of Representatives)

MANILA – Senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) will receive a higher monthly discount on groceries and other prime commodities worth PHP500 beginning next month.

During a meeting with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials led by Undersecretary Carolina Sanchez on Tuesday, House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said he was informed that the DTI is amenable to the House leader’s request for the grant of additional discounts on groceries for senior citizens and PWDs.

“I am delighted to welcome the imminent implementation of increased discounts for our senior citizens and PWDs,” Romualdez said in a news release.

He earlier sought a hike in the 5 percent discount senior citizens and PWDs enjoy each week on groceries, currently capped at a total purchase value of PHP1,500, which translates to a weekly discount of PHP65, saying this is no longer appropriate given the increasing cost of living.

Senior citizens, he said, would now enjoy a back-to-back bonanza as President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. just signed into law on Monday Republic Act (RA) 11982, or the Expanded Centenarian Act granting a PHP10,000 cash gift to an elderly citizen upon reaching the age of 80 and every five years after until the age of 95.

“This initiative to provide additional discounts for senior citizens and PWDs demonstrates the commitment of President Marcos to promoting inclusivity and social justice,” he said.

Romualdez said the House leadership is working closely with the President to achieve his vision of building a more compassionate and equitable society.

Sanchez said the DTI is working “so that the usual PHP65 per week discount for senior citizens and PWDs may be increased to PHP125.”

This would mean an increase to PHP500 per month from the current PHP260 monthly discounts on groceries and premium items enjoyed by the elderly and PWDs.

She said while the process of consultation with stakeholders is ongoing, the necessary inter-agency circular to implement the additional discount would likely be issued and take effect within March.

“It’s a joint issuance between the DA (Department of Agriculture), DTI, and the DOE (Department of Energy),” Sanchez said.

She noted, however, that the discounts cover only basic goods and prime commodities, or typical items consumed daily, such as rice, corn, bread, meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cooking oil, sugar, vegetables, fruits, onions, garlic, as well as fresh and processed milk, except medical grade milk.

Also covered are manufactured goods, such as processed meat, sardines, and even corned beef, although the premium brands are not.

Senior citizens and PWDs also stand to enjoy additional discounts on basic construction supplies, like cement, hollow blocks, and electrical supplies, including light bulbs.

Premium items, including non-essential food, such as cakes and pastries, were exempted from the additional discount, according to Sanchez.

After the issuance of the implementing inter-agency circular, the DTI will publish a comprehensive list of the items covered by the additional discount for seniors and PWDs to guide the public and the affected merchants. (PNA)