Angara calls for full implementation of laws empowering PWDs

Published December 2, 2018, 12:48 PM

by Patrick Garcia


By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Sunday called for the full implementation of laws empowering persons with disabilities or PWDs noting that only a few individuals from this sector are aware of their benefits under the law.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Sonny Angara Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara
(Sonny Angara Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

The lawmaker pointed out that these laws were designed to remove barriers to full social and economic inclusion of PWDs, such as inaccessible physical environments and transportation, gaps in service delivery, and discriminatory prejudice and stigma in society.

“We have enough laws protecting PWDs, and all that needs to be done is to fully and strictly implement these laws so that we can eliminate the barriers that prevent them from being included and accepted in the society,” Angara said.

“Kailangan nating ipadama natin sa kanila na sila ay suportado at tanggap ng lipunan sa pamamagitan ng pakikitungo sa kanila ng may respeto, dignidad at may pagkalinga, (We need to show to them that they are supported and accepted in the community by giving them the respect, dignity and protection),” the senator stressed.

Angara made the appeal as the nation celebrates the observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Monday (December 3).

He said one way of showing support for PWDs is to obey laws that aim to empower them. In particular, he said, the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, entitles PWDs to a 20-percent discount for the purchase of medicines in all drugstores, medical and dental services including diagnostic and laboratory fees, and professional fees of attending doctors.

They are also entitled to the same discount from business establishments like hotels and restaurants, admission fees on theaters and movie houses, as well as transportation fare for domestic land, air and sea travel.

Angara cited that a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) 2010 survey showed that only about three in 10 PWDs in the rural areas were aware of the Magna Carta.

Because of low awareness, PWDs have very low participation in discount privileges mainly because they do not have the PWD ID and are unable to go out.

The late Senate President Edgardo Angara, who was also responsible for the senior citizens discount, primarily authored the Magna Carta for PWDs.

Such discount was expanded by the younger Angara who sponsored Republic Act 10754 in 2016, which granted a 12-percent value-added tax exemption to PWDs.

To avail of these benefits and privileges, one must apply for a PWD ID at the city or municipal social welfare office.

“These laws were passed to give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of PWDs and their integration into the mainstream society,” he pointed out.

“Dapat ay gawing mas madali ang proseso sa pagkuha ng ID upang mas marami sa ating mga kababayang may kapansanan ang makinabang sa mga benepisyong ito, (We need to expedite the process ID application for them so that many of our fellowmen who have physical disabilities would be able to avail of these benefits),” the senator said.

The Magna Carta also provides protection for PWDs against ridicule and vilification, as it prohibits discrimination against PWDs in employment, housing, education and access to public services.

Another law, RA 10524, he said, mandates all government agencies and offices to reserve at least one percent of all positions for PWDs.

On the other hand, the Accessibility Law under Batas Pambansa 344, requires certain buildings, institutions and establishments and public utilities to install facilities and other devices that would enhance the mobility of PWDs.

“These laws must be strictly implemented in order to ensure that PWDs have the same opportunity to access and benefit certain services in a similar way as others,” the senator said.

“We should treat PWDs in a way that respects their dignity and independence,” Angara stressed.