MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country can breathe a little more easily after having won a major victory.
This is following Malacañang’s announcement on Tuesday night, March 29, that President Benigno Aquino III has signed Republic Act 10754 into law, exempting PWDs from value added tax (VAT) payment.
Aquino signed RA 10754 on March 23, according to Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
RA 10754 amends the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons to allow the exemption. The principal authors of the House and Senate versions of the bill are Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
It also grants a P25,000-annual income tax deduction to relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, who are caring for and living with a PWD.
“This recently enacted law expands the benefits and privileges of PWDs and their families under the existing Magna Carta to further alleviate the plight of Filipino PWDs and promote their welfare,” said Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, one of the authors and sponsor of the measure, who chairs the Senate ways and means committee.
Romualdez and Recto thanked Aquino for signing the bill into law. The Leyte congressman noted that the President decided to support the measure “despite not being a priority bill.”
Under RA 10754, PWDs will be VAT-exempt on the following:
- Land transportation, domestic air and sea travels
- Fees and charges for medical and dental services including diagnostic and laboratory fees
- Professional fees of attending doctors in all government facilities and private hospitals and medical facilities
- Cost of medicines
- Funeral and burial services
- Fees and charges in hotels, restaurants and recreation centers
- Admission fees in theaeres, cinema houses, concert halls, and other similar places of culture, leisure, and amusement
Prior to RA 10754, PWDs are entitled to a 20%-discount on expenses such as medical services and transportation, and a 5%-discount on basic necessities and prime commodities. (READ: FAST FACTS: What persons with disabiities are entitled to)
PWDs, however, had to pay the 12%-VAT.
Speed up IRR
Recto urged Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman to ensure the speedy issuance of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“I hope this IRR will not move on crutches. Sana mabilis (I hope it will be quick). Any delay in effect freezes the benefits,” Recto said.
Under RA 10754, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Finance (DOF), and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), shall promulgate the IRR.
In case of delay, authors of the bill have installed a safety net through a provision that “failure of the concerned agencies to promulgate the said rules and regulations shall not prevent the implementation of this Act upon its effectivity.”
Every centavo counts
Now, imagine a PWD’s regular expenses.
Only half the country’s urban PWDs are employed; it is less than that in rural areas. Even with jobs, most PWDs still find themselves earning below the poverty line: 45.9% of urban PWDs are poor and 61.9% of rural PWDs are classified as poor.
Ramon Apilado, the public relations officer for Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, explained the difficulties PWDs face when budgeting their expenses.
“Madaming needs ang may kapansanan. So kung ikaw ay may kapansanan, nandiyan na nag-gagamot ka rin. Nandiyan na gumagastos ka sa iyong catheter kung ikaw ay may spinal cord injury. Nandiyan yung naka-physical therapy ka rin. Yung maintenance na gamot mo kasi kapag kasama ng pagkakaroon ng may kapansanan yung pagkakaroon ng maraming sakit,” Apilado explained
(PWDs have many needs. So if you have a disability, you have medical services. You have to spend on a catheter if you have a spinal cord injury. You have physical therapy too. You have your maintenance medication because part of being a PWD is having a lot of illnesses.)
This does not count special medication like muscle relaxants for people with cerebral palsy, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Every centavo counts for PWDs, and with the VAT exemption law, PWDs can even start saving. – Rappler.com
Handicapped parking sign image via Shutterstock
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