An argument over Php1.00

Yesterday’s journey back home in Manila turned out to be an interesting case of testing our values of respect for one another, the law and decency.

One of my fellow passengers on the commute from Tenement in C-5 to the MRT/LRT station in Pasay City along the East Service road was an old man and a senior citizen. The driver of the jeep was a decade younger than him, I think. For the purposes of this post, I’d refer to the passenger as ‘Manong senior citizen‘ and the driver as ‘Manong Drayber‘. Yes, I need to work on better references.

It all started when Manong Senior citizen told Manong Drayber that his change was short by Php1.00 (0.023 USD) by virtue of him being a senior citizen who is entitled to a discount on the fare under R.A. 9257 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003. We all thought that Manong Drayber would readily give back the Php.100 but instead he replied; “Nasaan po ang [senior citizen] ID niyo?” The the following exchange took place:

Manong Senior Citizen: Hindi mo pa ba nakikita? [Can’t you see?] (referring to his obviously aged appearance and even took off his cap to show his grey hair)
Manong Drayber: Pareho naman po tayong may puting buhok. Ipakita niyo na lang po ang ID niyo. [Both of us have grey hair. Just show me your ID instead.]
Manong Senior Citizen: Ay sige, heto o. (he then took out his senior citizen’s ID) Para sa pisong iyan eh papalakihin mo pa. [Nevermind, here you go. Just for Php1.00 you would make a big deal out of it.]
Manond Drayber: Sumusunod lang po kami sa patakaran, walang ID, walang discount. Gumagalang naman po…[We are just following the rules, no ID, no discount. We also respect…]
Manong Senior Citizen: Kung ganoon wag na. Sa iyo na lang ang piso mo. Kawawa ka naman. [Never mind then. You can keep your Php1.00. You badly need it.]
Manong Drayber: Ay hindi po. Sige, eto na ang piso. Karapatan niyo po iyan. Ibibigay ko naman, ipakita niyo lang ang ID niyo. Kung ano-ano na ang sinasabi niyo dyan. [No, take it. It’s your right. I would give you the discount had you shown your ID first. You’re the one who’s making a big deal out of this.]
Manong Senior Citizen: Hindi na. Sa iyo na. Para kumita ka naman. Ibibigay mo din naman pala, mamimilosopo ka pa. Ibalik mo na yung piso sa kanya. [No, nevermind. So that you’d make a living. You did give me a discount and yet you have to be a smartass about it. Give him back his Php1.00

In between Manong Drayber and Manong Senior Citizen was a middle-aged man with his family. As in the case for anyone who sits between the driver and another passenger in a jeep, he has the customary job of passing on the fare or change to and fro. While the two Manongs were arguing, he was torn whether to give the one peso coin to the passenger or back to the driver. At the end of the two Manongs’ argument, he did a Pontius Pilate and simply put the coin on a small covered bucket thus ending his part in the whole drama.

This was the first time I encountered a jeep driver who actually asked for a senior citizen’s ID before giving the discount. Jeep drivers are folksy, well most of them are, and dispense with the formalities of asking for proof of being a senior citizen as most of us would easily recognize a senior citizen upon first look. Filipino customs and values which pays respect for the elderly also dictate that we try our best not to bother them.

Was Manong Drayber right in asking for an ID first before giving the discount? The relevant portion of R.A. 9257 says:

In the availment of the privileges mentioned above, the senior citizen or elderly person may submit as proof of his/her entitlement thereto any of the following:

(a) an ID issued by the city or municipal mayor or of the barangay captain of the place where the senior citizen or the elderly resides;

You would even see other business establishments putting up signs reminding senior citizens to present their IDs when claiming their discounts and privileges so it seems that the law is clearly on Manong Drayber’s side. However, there’s a caveat, as our customs seems to have found its way into the law itself through the operative word “may” in the above-quoted provision of R.A. 9257. You don’t even need to go to law school just to understand that the word ‘may’ means that it’s not mandatory for the senior citizen to present proof of being at least 60 years old in order to avail of their privileges.

Manong Senior Citizen had a point. In his looks alone he was definitely pushing 60+ years of living on this planet. On the other hand, Manong Drayber also had a point, there’s nothing wrong in asking or expecting people to present proof to back up their claims.

Whose side are you on?

*Image by Alma Gamil. Some rights reserved.

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