The House of Representatives' Special Committee on Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) on Wednesday passed House Bill (HB) 7180 or the "Covid-19 Emergency Health Grant for Persons with Disabilities Act," authored by Negros Occidental Fifth District Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo.

Under the bill, each PWD, regardless of age, will receive P750-monthly cash assistance. The cash aid might be waived "if [he/she] is capable of supporting his/her own self or his/her family."

Beneficiaries must be registered with the Philippine Statistics Authority, the National Council for Disability Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Persons with Disability Affairs Offices or Persons with Disability Affairs Focal Person.

HB 7189 mandates the DSWD as the lead agency in facilitating the release of the emergency health grant that would cover disability-related costs needed by PWDs amid the pandemic.

Arroyo explained that PWDs, unlike those without disabilities, "are constrained by their physical, mental and/or psychological impairments; inaccessible living spaces and comments; and the social stigma of having disabilities."

"All these factors make the quality of life of persons with disabilities immediately more challenging compared to those without disabilities," said Arroyo.

The lawmaker also lamented that the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of the government did not have "specific provisions that prioritize [PWDs], or alternatively, families or households that comprise [PWDs] in terms of targeting."

"Although persons with disabilities were identified as eligible beneficiaries of the SAP, a significant number of [PWDs] did not receive the benefits that should have been accorded to them," Arroyo said.