Fake PWDs use cards to get into vaccine priority list

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    A LAWMAKER yesterday asked the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infections Diseases (IATF) to adopt strict verification procedures for individuals applying for cards for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

    Fake PWDs are using the PWD cards to get into the COVID-19 vaccination priority list, according to Rep. Ronnie Ong (PL, Ang Probinsyano).

    Ong said that in one vaccination center in Manila, 90 percent of the recipients who are all Filipino-Chinese claim to be PWDs “while most of them appeared to be very healthy, fully functional and had no signs of any disability.”

    “I think that before listing a person who claims to be a PWD, those who are processing their applications should thoroughly verify if they are really listed in the master list of PWDs which can be provided by the National Council on Disability Affairs,” Ong said.

    Ong co-authored House Resolution No. 454 which seeks to investigate cases which show individuals faking disabilities just so they can enjoy discounts and privileges given to PWDs.

    Ong said that because of limited supply, government should make sure that only those who deserve to get COVID vaccines are placed in the “A” bracket for priority groups listed as follows: Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local, private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students, nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.; senior citizens aged 60 years old and above; persons with comorbidities; frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during enhance community quarantine; and indigent population.

    Some PWDs are classified under persons with comorbidities.

    Ong asked Congress to act on his proposal for the DOH, the NCDA and the Department of Interior and Local Government to initiate a crackdown against the proliferation of PWD impersonators.

    He said the IDs are also being used to get undue discounts and privileges from various business establishments that are already having a hard time recouping their financial losses because of the pandemic.

    Ong has also called for a government recall all old PWD IDs and issue new ones subject to full verification by either the DOH or the NCDA and create a national PWD database so that each PWD can have his or her quick response codes code or machine-readable bar code.

    The Supreme Court said the 30,000 judiciary employees nationwide have been recognized by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 as frontline government workers performing essential functions amid the pandemic, thereby, allowing them to be included as part of the priority group for vaccination.

    In a letter dated April 5 and addressed to Judiciary employees, acting Chief Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe said the SC’s request dated March 31 for the inclusion of Judiciary employees in Category A4 for COVID-19 vaccination has been granted by the task force.

    The SC said justices, judges and court personnel are frontline government workers and that through its adjudicatory functions, the “Judiciary is an essential institution in the justice sector that works hand-in-hand with the executive branch in maintaining peace and order and safeguarding public welfare in accordance with the rule of law.”

    “Truly, during this unsettling pandemic, upholding the rule of law assumes greater significance.Thus, access to judicial relief should be constant,” Bernabe said.

    Bernabe said with the NTF’s approval of the request, the details of implementation of the vaccination drive for Judiciary employees “shall be immediately worked out in order to swiftly roll out the program at the soonest.”

    “At present, the NTF has communicated that vaccines arriving this April shall be partly allotted for the Judiciary,” Bernabe added.

    SC spokesman Hosaka Brian Keith said included in the “roughly 30,000 Judiciary employees” are the permanent, casual and coterminous workers. – With Ashzel Hachero