LEYTE first district Representative-elect Martin Romualdez yesterday asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to update the public and Congress on the compliance rate of a “malasakit” (compassionate) law exempting persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the payment of value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services.
At the same time, Romualdez, principal author of Republic Act (RA) No. 10754 or an Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability (PWD), urged the House of Representatives to use its oversight function by assessing how the PWD law is being implemented.
“We want to know from the government how the concerned people have been complying with this law. We should show malasakit to the plight of our PWDs. Congress should also exercise its oversight function,” said Romualdez, President of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
Reelected Davao City Mayor and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) chairperson Sara Duterte-Carpio has endorsed Romualdez, who will be serving his fourth term as Leyte congressman, as the Speaker of the 18th Congress.
Then President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III signed Romualdez’s measure into law on March 23, 2016, exempting more than 1.5 million PWDs from 12% VAT payment on certain goods and services.
“We just want to ensure that PWDs are enjoying the benefits they deserve under the law three years after its enactment,” said Romualdez who was the leader of the so-called House Independent Bloc of the previous 16th Congress when he pushed the measure.
“Let us work to beef up efforts in informing the public about the standards set by law for the rights and privileges of our PWDs,” said Romualdez who reiterated his commitment to push the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte in the next three years.
Romualdez said the DSWD, NCDA and the House of Representatives should also look into possible abuse by some dishonest people or illegitimate beneficiaries.
“Possible cases of abuse in the privileges granted to PWDs under the law must be checked. Only legitimate PWDs should benefit from the law,” Romualdez pointed out. “Magmalasakit tayo sa ating PWDs. Tulungan nating masiguro na naipapatupad nang tama ang batas.”
The law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs) expanding the benefits and privileges of PWDs was signed by then Social Welfare Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, and officials of the Department of Health (DoH) and NCDA.
The 12% VAT exemption is on top of the 20-percent discount that PWDs have been enjoying under RA No. 9442 or an act amending RA No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and for Other Purposes.
The PWD VAT exemption law applies to restaurants; recreation centers, such as theaters, movie houses, and concert halls; and lodging establishments; such as inns, motorists hotels, and dormitories.
Under the law, it covers the purchase of medicines and foods for special medical purposes; medical and dental services, including laboratory fees and professional fees of attending doctors; domestic air, sea, and land transportation travel; and funeral and burial services.
It requires all establishments to place signs listing the benefits and privileges of PWDs within their premises.
It also includes the provision of tax incentives for those caring for and living with PWDs up to the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity.
Under the law, qualified PWDs should present an ID issued by the Persons with Disability Affairs Office or their local Social Welfare Development Office where the PWD resides, the passport of the concerned person with apparent disability, or an ID issued by the National Council on Disability Affairs.