Senate urged to hurry ok of PWD health care measure

October 14, 2018
Yedda Marie K. Romualdez

Romualdez, the chairperson of the House Committee on Accounts, made her appeal after the House of Representatives with an overwhelming 204 votes approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 8014 or “An Act Providing For The Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage Of All Persons With Disability (PWD).

She expressed high hopes that the Senate will approve with a similar sense of urgency its version to further promote the welfare of the PWDs.

“I appeal to the Senate leadership to also fast track the passage of the PWD measure as this would help their plight,” said Romualdez, a registered nurse who co-authored House Bill (HB) No. 8014 principally filed by Nueva Ecija Rep. Micaela S. Violago.

The Leyte lawmaker said the measure will extend “malasakit” (compassion) to PWDs who badly need help and assistance from the government.

Romualdez, a vice chairperson of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, thanked her colleagues and Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for their strong commitment to help the PWD sector.

She hoped that the measure will be approved soon into law like Republic Act (RA) No. 10645 which provides mandatory PhilHealth coverage to all senior citizens.

Violago explained that PWD is among the vulnerable sectors in the country “that need assistance and protection.”

“According to the World Health Organization, people with disabilities, though having the same needs as non-disabled people, have less access to health care services and therefore experience unmet health care needs,” said Violago.

The proposal will amend RA No. 7277, as amended by RA No. 9442, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

Romualdez recalled the compassionate RA No. 10754 or An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability that exempts PWDs from 12-percent value added tax (VAT) payment that her husband, Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) President Martin Romualdez, principally authored.

Martin’s “malasakit” or compassionate law exempts more than 1.5 million PWDs from the payment of VAT on certain goods and services.

The law that stemmed from Martin’s HB (HB) No. 1039 which amends RA No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability”, exempts PWDs from the 12-percent VAT, as amended by RA No. 9442, which gave the PWDs the 20-percent discount.

“This is an equalizing measure because this will accord PWDs exactly the same privilege enjoyed by senior citizens who are exempted from the VAT,” said Martin, a former House Independent Bloc leader and a three-term Leyte congressman.

Like senior citizens, PWDs are now eligible for a 20-percent discount on medical and dental services; purchase of medicines in all drugstores; public railway, skyway and bus fares; 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, recreation centers, funeral and burial expenses.

The Romualdez law on PWD also gives the relatives, up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, taking care of handicapped people, the right to claim a tax deduction of P25,000 in their income tax.

The bill is also authored by Reps. Alfredo Garbin Jr., Rodel Batocabe, Christopher Co, Mariano Michael Velarde Jr., Jerry Treñas, Alfred Vargas, Vilma Santos-Recto, Cristina Roa-Puno, Enrico Pineda, Michael Romero, Ph. D., and Raul Tupas, among others.