Duterte signs law vs gift card expiration

People at a mall. (InterAksyon file)

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law Republic Act 109621, or the Gift Check Act of 2017, which prohibits the issuance of gift checks with expiry dates on the stored value, credit, or balance of the gift certificate.

The new law, enacted December 19, says consumers “must not be unduly deprived of the value of their money.”

“It is the policy of the State to protect the interest of the consumers,” it read. “Consistent therewith, it shall promote and encourage fair, honest, and equitable relations among parties in consumer transaction and protect consumers against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts and practices.”

Aside from prohibiting issuance of certificates with expiration, Section 5 of the act outlaws refusal to honor the unused value, credit or balance stored in the instrument.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri called the new law “one of our relevant outputs in this Second Regular Session.”

“Now, the confusion, loss and false advertising claims of shops and retailers are put to rest,” he said. “Receivers and buyers of Gift Checks now have peace of mind that the value of the GC stated in paper, plastic and covered transactions will not diminish at all.”

The new law does not cover gift checks issued under loyalty rewards or promotional programs, as determined by the Department of Trade and Industry, coupons and vouchers.

Violations of the law will be punished as follows:

For first-time offenders, a fine of not less than P500,000 but not exceeding P1 million.

For second offenders, the same amount plus a three-month suspension on the issuance of gift checks.

A third offense may lead to cancellation of the authority to issue gift checks.