SENATORIAL candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez yesterday vowed to push for the automatic enrollment of at least 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Should he win a Senate seat, Romualdez said he is committed to continue helping the PWD sector following the passage into law of his measure promoting their welfare and interests.
“Our malasakit commitment to PWD sector will continue and one of our legislative proposals we are going to push in the Senate is their mandatory enrollment to PhilHealth program of the government,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez was the principal author of the PWD “malasakit” law exempting the PWDs from the payment of 12-percent value added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino signed Romualdez’s measure into law last March 23 through Republic Act (RA) No. 10754.
Romualdez said the VAT exemption coverage of the law shall apply on the following: medical and dental services; purchase of medicines in all drugstores; public railways, skyways and bus fare; admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, and recreation centers.
The PWD law would also allow the relatives, up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, taking care of handicapped to claim a tax deduction of P25,000 in their income tax.
The law added funeral services and burial expenses to the list of assistance to be given to PWDs.
Romualdez said the newly-signed law is an equalizing measure as this would accord PWDs exactly the same privilege being enjoyed by senior citizens who are exempted from VAT payment by virtue of Magna Carta for Persons with Disability under RA No. 7277 as amended by RA No. 9442 giving PWDs 20 percent discount.
“The law grants twelve percent VAT exemption to PWDs on certain goods and services. My proposal will put PWDs on equal footing with senior citizens who are already exempted from VAT payment on top of their 20 percent discount,” Romualdez pointed out.
Romualdez, a lawyer from the University of the Philippines (UP) and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), finished his undergraduate studies with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Government from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1985 and obtained in 1988 a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from the Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Survey frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte adopted Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc and a three-term congressman who is running for the Senate under a platform anchored on compassionate governance, as one of his guest senatorial candidates for sharing similar platforms of government in ensuring peace and order, curbing graft and corruption, giving free colleges education, improving health services, institutionalizing and expanding the conditional cash transfer (CCT), and among others.