LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – An advocate of the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities (PWDs) of this city expressed concern over the lack of awareness on the PWD law making the situation of challenged individuals even more difficult.
In an interview, Grace Oyando, in charge of the Office of the Persons with Disability Affairs of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), said that lack of awareness of the law that protects the rights of PWDs by establishments which are supposed to extend benefits to PWDs under the law affects the enjoyment of PWDs of their entitlements.
She said that the best solution to this is massive information campaign for all establishments so owners will be informed of the law and recognize PWD rights. These establishments are pharmacies, health facilities, restaurants, recreation centers, lodging establishments, and transportation services, Oyando said.
Oyando also said that the lack of awareness must be addressed especially so with the passage of RA 10754 (An Act Expanding the Benefits and PWDs) which gives additional value-added tax exemption in purchasing certain goods and services that are covered by Value Added Tax (VAT).
This is on top of the 20 percent discount they are already entitled to under Republic Act 9442, or An Act Amending RA 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons and for Other Purposes.
The tax exemption law covers restaurants, recreation centers, such as theaters, cinema houses and concert halls and lodging establishments such as inns, motorist hotels and dormitories, she said.
Eusebia Edduba, Social Welfare Officer IV of the CSWDO, said that the law also applies to 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.
Edduba also noted that RA 10754 directs all establishments to place signages on the benefits and privileges of PWD within their premises so that this sector will know what they are entitled to.
Other salient features of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the PWD law include reiteration of the right of PWD to social insurance (thru the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System or Pag-IBIG), educational assistance, special discounts in the purchase of basic necessities and prime commodities and express lanes in all commercial and government establishments.
It also includes provision of tax incentives for those caring for and living with persons with disability up to the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity.
Further, RA 10754 also covers certain vitamins, minerals and herbs in the definition of drug or medicine as long as these are in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s cutoff as well as food for special medical purposes.
According to Oyando, double discounts are not allowed by the law. This means that if a PWD is a senior citizen who is also entitled to a 20 percent discount under his/her valid senior citizen identification card (ID), the PWD shall use either his/her Senior Citizen ID or PWD ID card to avail of the 20 percent discount, she explained.
“The needs of PWDs in general must not be compromised but rather given constant support to aid their continuous rehabilitation and re-integration into the mainstream society,’’ Corazon Tamangen, SPED teacher of Tabuk City Central School said during July 21 episode of ‘’City Updates’’, the LGU program over Radyo ng Bayan.
Following a three-day orientation on early detection, prevention and intervention of disabilities among children held on July 19-21 attended by 50 people including adult PWDs, parents of disabled children, Special Education (SPED) teachers, selected day care workers, stakeholders and service providers, Oyando said that awareness campaigns must be initiated the soonest possible time.
The activity which was conducted by CSWDO in partnership with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)- Kalinga touched upon discussions on the Magna Carta for Person with Disabilities (PWDs), educational intervention to children with disabilities, detection and prevention of disability, intervention and activity of daily living for disability.
A forum on the rights and privileges of PWDs was also given.
According records of CSWDO for June 2017, a total of 1,064 PWDs in the city are registered. They are distributed as follows: physical – 400, sensorial – 345, intellectual -135, learning – 115 and psychosocial – 69.
By Darwin S. Serion