MANILA, Philippines – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Judy Taguiwalo signed on Thursday, December 1, the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law providing value-added tax (VAT) exemption for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Former President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10754 or An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability last March 23, granting differently-abled persons with VAT relief and at least 20% discount on specific goods and services. (READ: FAST FACTS: What persons with disability are entitled to)
Based on the signed IRR, these expanded PWDs privileges apply to the following items:
Vitamins and minerals are included in the discounted medicines PWDs can buy, as long as the purchase is in accordance with the list of the Food and Drug Administration. Herbal medicine for therapeutic use are also included in this category.
Meanwhile, food for special and medical purpose pertains to those intended for the "exclusive or partial feeding" of persons with limited capacity to take, digest, or metabolize ordinary food.
The IRR also mandates transport operators and other establishments to place a signage informing PWDs of their benefits.
Those living with a dependent PWD up to the 4th degree of consanguinity shall be granted the corresponding tax incentives.
All these benefits apply to Filipinos who hold foreign passports but with dual citizenship or those who acquired their Filipino citizenship.
Aside from these benefits, the law also reiterates the rights of PWDs that are no different from regularly-abled citizens.
It upholds that they have the right to educational assistance from primary school up until college or when they take technical vocational courses, whether in private or public schools. (READ: Cavite, Cebu schools prepare PWDs for employment)
They are also entitled to the right to social insurance through the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF/Pag-ibig).
They should also be given special discounts in buying basic needs and prime commodities, and access to express lanes and government establishments.
In her statement during the signing of the IRR, Taguiwalo said that these provisions have been crafted after consultations with groups and individuals advocating the rights of PWDs. (READ: LGU empowers persons with autism through employment)
The IRR was crafted together with other government agencies: the Department of Health, Department of Finance, and the National Council for Disability Affairs.
"This is a step forward, but it is not our end goal," Taguiwalo reminded her colleagues in government. "The signing of the law is just the start of our task, and it is very crucial that we continue consulting with members of the PWD sector and their organizations."
She added: "We have to ensure that the steps we undertake on their behalf actually respond to their needs and reflect their sentiments when it comes to policies. In the process, we make them our partners in the crafting of laws that aim to serve their interest and the greater good." – Rappler.com