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No expiry gift check bill passes Second Reading in the Senate

Senators approved Senate Bill No. 1466 or the proposed "Gift Check (GC) Act of 2017" on Second Reading. "Ang cash ay walang expiration, kaya dapat ang mga GCs ay wala ring expiration. Once enacted, this will firm up the gains of consumers, both buyers and receipients of gift checks, from Department Trade and Industry orders issued for the same purpose since July 12, 2014," Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship.

"In this wired, unwired, unplugged and seamless world, consumers have so many options on the kinds of gifts to send and how to send it. Giving out gift checks is one of the most convenient and most liked gift for a long time. Unfortunately, we are left with stale gift certificates at great loss to the receipient and the sender. We lived with it and just said the shelf life expired," said Zubiri.

"With a no-expiry law on gift checks, we can enjoy gift-giving better. Sa batas na ito may forever. Gifts redeemed thru this law are always right on time. Forever, flowers are freshly-picked and pizzas forever freshly-baked. Card, phone-swipers and code texters can keep the paper, card, or code 'forever' and the GCs stay valid waiting to be used to redeem the gift."

Zubiri explained that the bill distinguished between gift check, gift certificate or gift card (GCs), on the one hand and coupon or voucher on the other hand. GCs are defined as "any instrument issued to any person, natural or juridical, for monetary consideration, honored upon presentation at a single merchant or an affiliated group of merchants as payment for consumer goods or services. The instrument may be in the form of paper, card, code, or other device." Meanwhile a coupon or voucher is defined as "any instrument issued to any person, natural or juridical, for monetary consideration or otherwise, that entitles the holder to a discount off a particular good or service, or that may be exchanged for a pre-identified good or service specified on the instrument."

Those excluded from the no-expiry date bill are the following: GCs issued to customers "under loyalty, rewards or promotional programs, as determined by the DTI" and coupons and vouchers as defined by the bill. To offer equal protection for issuers and accredited merchants the bill provided for instances when the GC may not be honored. These are:

"a) when the gift check is lost due to no fault of the issuer; or

b) when the gift check is mutilated or defaced due to no fault of the issuer and such dmage prevents the issuer from identifying the security and authenticity features thereof."

We shall soon set a meeting to iron out the differences and refine the bill better with the House of Representtives. Hindi rin ikalulugi ito ng mga negosyante. Magpapabilis pa nga ito ng mga transaksyon. We shall ensure that the benefits to consumers, especially to senior citizens and persons with disabilities are preserved since they are constrained by their physical state to redeem their gift checks," assured Zurbiri.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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