PWD privilege exploited by holders of fake IDs

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    ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap yesterday urged Mayors Isko Moreno of Manila and Joy Belmonte of Quezon City to act against fixers who are selling fake Persons with Disability (PWD) IDs that enable users to avail of as much as 32 percent discount in restaurants, air fares and other services.

    Yap, who has filed House Resolution No. 454 seeking the appropriate House panel to investigate the racket, said local government units (LGUs) have to address the issue because the government is losing billions in tax because of it.

    “Mayors, if you only knew how much taxes you are losing because of this. Look into it, have it checked if the bearers of these IDs are duly registered and have their medical certificates verified,” he told the weekly Ugnayan sa Batasan news forum.

    Yap, who vowed to resign as a congressman if someone can prove him wrong, said some of his friends and staff members were able to avail of the cards worth between P1,000 to P3,000 from fixers who are offering it through text messages.

    He said he instructed his staff to avail of the IDs for the purpose of verification because he once witnessed all members of the same family availing of the PWD discounts at a restaurant in Binondo, Manila.

    “I’ve asked around 15 persons from different walks of life – both rich ones and simple employees – to avail of the cards from Quezon City and Manila but the mayors are not part of this scheme. I asked them to use it just two months ago and they were able to use all of it,” Yap said.

    The lawmaker even presented copies of the fake IDs that his staff were able to obtain, saying that while real PWDs are finding it difficult to secure all the requirements to get legitimate IDs, dishonest individuals are able to get it easily.

    “I’m fuming because they’re stealing from the government,” Yap said. “We need a shame campaign. What’s worse is that those who are availing of these cards are mostly rich people who have obtained what seems to be a universal discount.”

    Yap said the IDs are either being released by fixers in cahoots with corrupt city hall officials and employees in Manila and Quezon City or are just fake IDs being printed out independently by fixers.

    He said these unscrupulous individuals have exploited a loophole in Republic Act (RA) No. 10754 (Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability) which is principally authored by House majority leader Martin Romualdez.

    Under Romualdez’s RA No. 10754, PWDs are exempted from the payment of 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services.

    The 12% VAT exemption is on top of the 20-percent discount that PWDs have been enjoying under RA No. 9442 or an act amending RA No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and for Other Purposes.

    Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, chair of the committee on public accounts, backed Yap’s call to investigate the illegal scheme.

    “I support it. I also have a friend who is an unqualified PWD ID holder. We have to purge the list (of PWD ID holders), Mayor Isko, although the problem just spilled over to his term, like here in Quezon City. We’re losing billions in taxes,” he told the same news forum.

    The PWD VAT exemption law applies to restaurants, recreation centers such as theaters, movie houses, and concert halls; and lodging establishments; such as inns, hotels, and dormitories.

    Under the law, it covers the purchase of medicines and foods for special medical purposes; medical and dental services, including laboratory fees and professional fees of attending doctors; domestic air, sea, and land transportation travel; and funeral and burial services.

    It requires all establishments to place signs listing the benefits and privileges of PWDs within their premises.

    It also includes the provision of tax incentives for those caring for and living with PWDs up to the fourth degree of affinity or consanguinity.

    Under the law, qualified PWDs should present an ID issued by the Persons with Disability Affairs Office or their local Social Welfare Development Office where the PWD resides, the passport of the concerned person with apparent disability, or an ID issued by the National Council on Disability Affairs.