Law banning expiration dates on gift certificates eyed by Christmas

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate and the House of Representatives have finalized the bill seeking to prohibit expiration dates on gift certificates (GCs).

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, sponsor of the Senate version, said both houses would push for the enactment of the law in time for Christmas.

"We will definitely push for the promulgation of the law and the approval of the IRR [Implementing Rules and Regulations] to make it timely as the Christmas shopping season comes," Zubiri said.

The Senate and the House have to ratify the bicameral version first before the bill gets enrolled for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature into law.

The proposed measure seeks to prohibit sellers from issuing gift checks that have expiration dates and merchants from refusing to honor the unused value, credit, or balance stored in a gift check.

Zubiri said the joint panel agreed on a new definition of a gift check, gift certificate, or gift card.

The terms, under the measure, shall refer to "an 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 can be in the form of paper, card, code or other device and shall remain valid until the cessation of business of the issuer."

The Department of Trade and Industry shall have exclusive jurisdiction in the implementation of the GC law.

The proposed law also pushes for stiffer penalties for violators. Merchants who issue GCs in violation of the measure would face a fine of P500,000 to P1 million.

For the second offense, in addition to the fine, the violator shall be suspended from issuing GCs for 3 months. For the third offense, the offending party would no longer be allowed to issue GCs, on top of the fines imposed.

Senior citizens, PWDs, exclusions

Under the measure, senior citizens and persons with disabilities will continue to enjoy discounts on purchases, as provided by the law, using GCs, said Zubiri.

Citing parts of the measure, Zubiri said that “promotional sales activities, loyalty programs, warranties, return policies for cash purchases, and discounts for senior citizens/persons with disability as provided for under the relevant laws and rules and regulations, shall apply likewise to purchases of goods and services that are paid with GCs.”

Excluded from coverage are gift checks issued to consumers under loyalty, rewards or promotional programs “as determined by the DTI.”

The proposed law also says the issuer and its accredited merchant may refuse to honor GCs when the GC is lost due to no fault of the issuer, and when the GC is mutilated or defaced due to no fault of the issuer. –


Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email