Regular health grant for PWDs and their families pushed

Published July 30, 2020, 8:43 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Negros Occidental 5th district Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” T. Arroyo has proposed to provide a monthly emergency health grant to persons with disabilities, as well as households caring for PWDs for a period of one year starting July.

Negros Occidental 5th district Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” T. Arroyo (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

The chairperson of the House Special Committee on Persons with Disability filed House Bill No. 7180 to bat for the implementation of the COVID-19 emergency universal health grant for PWDs, lamenting that disability is not accounted for in the government’s existing anti-poverty measures as shown in the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s lack of targeted programs for the sector.

“The State is mandated by international treaties and local laws to help alleviate the living conditions of persons with disabilities, especially during the period of COVID-19 pandemic,” Arroyo said in her bill’s explanatory note.

“This bill seeks to provide emergency support to PWDs, as well as families caring for PWDs who shoulder necessary disability-related costs, for a period of one year from July 2020, in order to help PWDs and families caring for PWDs as part of the government’s COVID-19 response.”

According to Arroyo, the non-inclusion of “a significant number of PWDs” and their families  in the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and the low number of PWDs included in the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) program prodded her to file her proposed “COVID-19 Emergency Health Grant for Persons with Disabilities Act.”

She even noted that DSWD’s 4Ps only records 30, 223 PWDs in their current active household beneficiaries, as compared to almost 320,000 PWDs identified in the DSWD’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) in 2015, which is already being way below the Disability Prevalence Survey and puts the estimate of PWDs at 12 percent nationwide.

Under HB 7180, a targeted financial assistance called “emergency disability health (EDH) grants” shall be given to PWDs to help cover disability related costs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and under the “new normal.”

Covered by the bill are all Filipinos with disability registered with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), DSWD, and the Persons with Disability Affairs Offices/ Persons with Disabilities Affairs Focal Person (PDAOs/PDAF) and City or Municipal Social Welfare Office (C/MWSO) regardless of age and socio-economic status.

The bill entitles the eligible PWD to a monthly health grant from the DSWD amounting to P750 to augment his or her daily subsistence during the COVID-19 crisis, subject to existing government auditing rules and regulations.

HB 7180 provides that the monthly health grant may be waived if the PWD is capable of supporting his or her own self or his or her family as certified by the concerned DSWD Field Office.

The bill tasks the DSWD to be the lead implementing arm of the Emergency Health Grant program, while the NCDA shall serve as the primary custodian of the database of PWDs.

Arroyo’s bill mandates the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release directly to the DSWD the amount necessary for the implementation of the proposed Act.

In the 2010 Census, the government recorded a total of 1.44 million Filipinos with disabilities.