By Ellson Quismorio
Ranking members of the House of Representatives want the abuse on the privileges of the Persons with Disability (PWD) identification cards to stop.
ACT-CIS Party-List Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the Committee on Games and Amusements, bared during the Ugnayan sa Batasan News Forum Tuesday that he had filed House Resolution (HR) 454, which prods the appropriate House panel to investigate the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 10754 or the Act expanding the benefits and privileges of PWDs and on the process of the issuance of the PWD card.
According to Yap, well-off and physically-able individuals are abusing the discounts and privileges accorded to PWD ID cardholders. And this did not sit well for him.
What’s worse is that fixers in local government units (LGUs) are now in the business of selling fake PWD ID cards for P1,000 to P3,000 each, the neophyte solon said.
“Nagpa-try ako ng 15 na mga tao. Iba-iba po ang antas ng kanilang buhay, mayaman, may mga empleyado, pinakunan ko [ng PWD card], iba-iba po, QC (Quezon City) Manila [City]…pinagamit ko, two months ago lang, lahat po iyan nagamit nila,” Yap said.
(I asked 15 people of different walks of life–rich people, employees–to get PWD cards from different LGUs, Quezon City, Manila. I told them to use it, it’s been two months, and everyone has been able to use it.)
Under RA 10754, PWDs are exempted from paying the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. This VAT exemption is on top of the 20 percent discount that PWDs have been enjoying under RA No. 9442 or the act amending RA No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.
“Alam ninyo ho iyong mga nakakalungkot di ba iyong mga may pera, kayo pa ho yung nag-aabuso (What’s sad is that those who are well off are the ones who abusing this),” Yap said, calling the act outright stealing from government coffers. This takes place even as legitimate PWDs have found it difficult to acquire true blue PWD ID cards, he said.
Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor, chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, backed Yap’s call for a House inquiry.
“I support it. May kaibigan rin ako na mayroong PWD ID kahit hindi naman dapat. Dapat i-purge na ni Mayor Isko [Moreno] ang list although inabot lang niya iyan, pati sa QC. Iyung buwis natin dito bilyun-bilyon ang nawawala,” said Defensor.
(I also have a friend with a PWD ID even if he/she shouldn’t. Mayor Isko Moreno should purge the list even if he just inherited it. The same goes for QC. Billions worth of taxes are going down the drain here.)
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.
The law covers the purchase of medicines and food 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.
Yap said that while he doesn’t believe the mayors are involved in the modus operandi, they need to take a close look at the processes involved in order to stop the abuse.
He even told restaurants and similar establishments to challenge the claim of “questionable” customers that use PWD ID cards.
“Hinihikayat ko iyong mga may-ari ng restaurant, iyong mga waiter o waitress dun picturan ninyo ho kung nagdudua kayo…Pag tinanggal kayo lumapit ho kayo sa akin ACT-CIS Party-List o sa Kongreso. Ipagtatanggol ko po kayo,” he said.
(I urge the owners of restaurants, the waiters and waitresses there to take a picture of them if you have doubts…If you get fired, approach ACT-CIS Party-List or Congress. I will defend you.)