FIRING LINE: PWD cards abused

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Many people, healthy as a horse, have fraudulently obtained genuine persons with disability (PWD) cards, and they reap the benefits they are not supposed to enjoy.

Cunning and abusive, they know that having a PWD card entitles the holder discounts of up to 20-percent and exemption from the value-added tax on the purchase of goods and services such as food, medicines, transport fares, and movie tickets. They know, too, that it’s easier to acquire it than the preferred Senior Citizen card.

Restaurants have been complaining about a surge in the number of PWD card-bearing customers.

Last year, a Japanese restaurant manager on Timog Avenue, Quezon City, told me that a group of eight to 10 people, all having PWD cards, would frequent their establishment.

A waitress in the same diner shared this fascinating story: When it was time to pay the bill, a group of “PWDs” presented their IDs. In a normal speaking tone, she read the name on one of the cards and asked them who it was. One of them raised his hand quickly. That card indicated that the owner had a hearing disability.

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Local government units (LGUs) issue PWD cards to their constituents. Obviously, there is corruption and “palakasan” in many of them.

Just recently, six members of an alleged well-off family from QC managed to secure PWD IDs. The city’s Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office (PDAO) probe results revealed that all of them were not qualified to bear the cards. There were no supporting documents on record at PDAO to justify the issuance of their IDs. It turned out that each family member paid P2,000 for the cards.

QC Mayor Joy Belmonte suspended the processing of PWD cards from June 25 to 26 to focus on crafting new guidelines, “so the system will not be abused by greedy and opportunistic individuals”.

Belmonte has identified the city employee responsible for the crime. A penalty of dismissal from the service is inevitable.

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While Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año urged LGUs to be strict in the issuance of the card, he also advised establishments to report unauthorized PWD cardholders to the police or LGUs for proper action.

The Philippine Registry for Persons with Disability (PRPWD) has a website (https://pwd.doh.gov.ph/pwd_verificationlist.php) where people can verify the authenticity of the ID. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The Department of Health ought to ensure that the database is accessible.

It is time to take Republic Act 10754, or the PWD Law, seriously.

To those fake PWDs, stop using the card. If you continue pretending you’re disabled, you might get your wish.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at https://thephilbiznews.com

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