MANILA, Philippines – A person with disability (PWD) was asked to head to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office in Imus City to claim his emergency subsidy – despite his illness, which makes walking difficult for him.
Roy Moral, a citizen of Imus, Cavite, has been suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that can cause some small bones in the spine to fuse, since he was 16 years old. As an effect of the disease, Moral was later diagnosed with venous stasis ulcer as well.
Due to his condition, Moral struggles to walk without feeling immense pain. In 2008, he was even forced to retire from his work as a high school teacher in the middle of the school year.
Since he is unable to work, Moral’s wife Maria Teresa has become the sole breadwinner of the family, focused on feeding their two children and buying medication to soothe Moral’s pain. Maria Teresa is a call center agent from a business processing outsourcing company in Pasay City.
Following the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, the livelihood of Moral’s family was compromised as his wife’s employer followed a no-work, no-pay scheme.
To help families like Moral’s during the coronavirus pandemic, the DSWD aims to distribute P5,000 to P8,000 a month for April and May to qualified beneficiaries as part of its emergency subsidy program. These beneficiaries are based on the 15 million families included in the DSWD’s 2015 Listahanan – the department’s data collection system that identifies the poorest households in the country. (READ: What we know so far: Funding the fight vs the coronavirus)
On April 15, Moral was informed that he was included in the masterlist of citizens qualified to receive emergency subsidy. The next day, April 16, local social welfare and development officials told Moral’s family to just wait at home, saying they would personally bring his subsidy to him given his identity as a person with disability.
With nobody arriving at their house for days, Maria Teresa prepared an authorization letter, medical records, and other supporting documents in a bid to claim Moral’s subsidy for him instead. However, when she went to the DSWD office with these documents, officials told her that her husband’s physical presence was needed to claim the subsidy, contrary to what they initially said days prior.
To make things more confusing, the officials reasoned that they were still scheduling their visit to the Moral home. The fate of Moral’s subsidy, then, remained in limbo.
“Kailangan ko po ng pera pambili ng gamot. Ang sabi kailangan ako ang pumunta doon para kuhanin ang pera. Tama ba ito, wala kayong konsiderasyon sa mga katulad naming PWD?” Moral said in a Facebook post.
(I need money to buy my medications. They said I needed to go to the office personally to claim the subsidy. Is this fair, that you have no consideration for PWDs like me?)
On April 25, 10 days since they were first contacted by the DSWD, the barangay sent ambulance services for Moral so he could personally claim the subsidy. The barangay officials wheeled Moral to the social welfare and development office in Imus using a stretcher.
After the incident, Moral shared his experience on Facebook and called on the government to specify proper protocol in the distribution of cash subsidies for persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
“Ang gusto ko lang sana mangyari, hindi lang sa kapwa PWD, pati senior citizens at buntis, ay ‘di na dapat [kami] pinalalabas. Prone ako sa virus, bakit kailangan ko pa lumabas? Konsiderasyon sana. Sana sa susunod hindi na mangyari ito sa kapwa ko na PWD,” Moral appealed.
(I just wish, not just for my fellow PWDs but for senior citizens and pregnant women as well, that we not be required to go out. I’m prone to the virus; why should I be made to go out? I wish they’d be more considerate. I hope this doesn’t happen to my fellow PWDs in the future.) – Rappler.com