THE enforcement starting today of the “malasakit” (compassionate) law exempting more than 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the payment of 12-percent value added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services is the best “Christmas gift” that more than 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) can receive during Yuletide.
In this light, Sen. Sonny Angara, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, lauded former House Independent Bloc Leader Martin Romualdez of Leyte for his initiative and advocacy in pushing the passage of the measure into law.
“The implementation of the ‘malasakit law’ of Congressman Martin Romualdez is the best gift we can give to our PWDs. He (Romualdez) rose above and through sheer faith, diligence and hard work, his very good advocacy was signed into law despite being a noted opposition leader during the last Congress,” Angara said in hailing the law that was principally sponsored by Romualdez during the last 16th Congress.
“Nagpupunta pa si Cong. Martin sa Senate to ensure the passage of PWD bill,” Angara recalled.
Angara, also the principal author of the law, also vowed not to let VAT exemption for PWDs be removed from the Department of Finance (DoF) tax package which seeks to lower income tax where offsetting measures, such as removing VAT exemption of elderly and PWDs are planned to be imposed.
“I would like to see the law implemented first before we even consider its removal. Hindi pa nga nila natitikman yung benepisyo ng batas tapos binabawi na,” Angara pointed out.
For his part, Romualdez, husband of Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt-Romualdez who is the vice chairperson of the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization, also thanked Angara and other authors of the measure for showing genuine “malasakit” to the plight of the PWD sector.
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you Sen. Sonny and all the authors and stakeholders who had helped the passage of the malasakit law,” said Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
“There is a reason to be happy, truly the best Christmas gift to our PWD sector and their loved ones,” said Romualdez. “It’s good that the government prioritized the implementation of the law that gives benefits to PWD sector. I advocated this because this is a compassionate measure aimed at helping their plight and at the same time as a way of giving thanks for the blessings that we have received in life.”
“Another glaring proof that President Rody Duterte is really serious about leveling the playing field to help and provide assistance to the underprivileged people,” Romualdez said.
The implementation this Friday was an offshoot of the publication of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) No. 10754 or an Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons With Disability (PWDs) authored by Romualdez.
DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said the law would accord PWDs the same privilege being enjoyed by senior citizens.
The law that stemmed from Romualdez’s House Bill (HB) No. 1039 which amends Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Persons with Disability”, exempts PWDs from the 12-percent VAT, as amended by RA No. 9442, which gave the PWDs the 20-percent discount.
Another noted author of the PWD law was Pasay City Rep. Emi Calixto Rubiano. In the Senate, the measure was principally pushed by Angara, Sens. Ralph Recto, Bam Aquino and Nancy Binay.
Last March 24, then President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III signed Romualdez’s R.A. No. 10754 granting VAT exemption benefits to PWDs.
Romualdez thanked all concerned officials and stakeholders from the PWD sector for drafting the IRR in consultation with the Department of Health (DoH), Department of Finance (DoF), and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) for the effective implementation of the provisions of the act.
The Philippine Statistics Authority has estimated the PWD population in the country at 1.5 million.