PERSONS with disabilities (PWDs) will soon enjoy benefits similar to those given to senior citizens if Congress passes a measure that will expand the privileges of PWDs under Republic Act 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.
Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, sponsored Senate Bill 2890, a consolidated version of House Bill 1039 principally authored by Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez and similar bills authored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Senator Bam Aquino, in the plenary.
Once enacted, the law will align the PWD law with the Expanded Senior Citizens Act which provides an exemption on Value Added Tax (VAT) on top of their 20 percent discount on particular goods and services.
PWDs will enjoy 20 percent discount on land transportation, domestic air and sea travels; charges for medical and dental services; diagnostic and laboratory fees, and professional fees of attending doctors in all government and private hospitals and medical facilities.
They will also get discounts on the cost of medicines; on their bills in hotels, restaurants and recreation centers; and admission fees in cinemas.
SB 2890 also aims to ensure that PWDs will be considered as a dependent of a taxpayer under the Tax Code provided that the PWD is not gainfully employed and is chiefly dependent and living with the taxpayer so that the taxpayer can claim additional personal exemption.
Based on the 2010 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were over 1.4 million PWDs or 1.57 percent of the country’s population.
But according to the 2014 data from the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability of the Department of Health, only 28,344 PWDs were registered, a mere two percent of the total PWD population.
PWDs have very low participation in discount privileges mandated by the Magna Carta for PWDs mainly because they are not aware of any policy that supports them and because they do not have the required PWD ID, Angara said.
The Department of Finance (DOF) said if the measure is passed into law, the government will lose P1.1 billion in revenues.
“Be that as it may, the benefits that will be derived by our PWDs and their families from this measure far outweigh the supposed revenue loss to the government,” Angara said.