February 19, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – Various organizations of persons with disabilities (PWDs) yesterday called on President Aquino to immediately sign into law House Bill 1039 providing tax exemption to PWDs.
In a forum held in Quezon City, Manuel Agcaoli, president of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Inc. (TWHI), said it is about time the President proves that he cares for PWDs by signing the bill.
“Para sa kapakanan ng mga may kapansanan, we are asking the President not to veto the measure katulad ng ginawa niya sa SSS (Social Security System) pension hike bill,” he said.
“Kung may malasakit siya talaga sa mga PWDs, he should immediately sign it into law,” he added.
For his part, Emer Rojas, president of the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP), said President Aquino should show that the government is addressing the plight of PWDs in the country by implementing the bill.
“This shall benefit many persons with disabilities, especially those who get sick with cancer,” Rojas noted.
HB 1039, authored by Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, who heads the House independent bloc, seeks to exempt PWDs from paying the 12 percent value-added tax (TAX) in addition to the 20 percent discount they are already enjoying on certain goods and services.
The proposed bill shall apply on medical and dental services; purchase of medicines; public railways, skyways and bus fares; admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other places of amusement, culture, and leisure; and all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, and recreation centers.
The said measure would also allow the relatives, up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, taking care of handicapped to claim a tax deduction of P25,000 in their annual income tax.
The House of Representatives and the Senate ratified the bill last December.
Romualdez, who attended the forum, said the bill is just awaiting the signature of the House Secretary General so it could finally be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
“I really hope the President will immediately sign it and not veto the measure to extend additional genuine assistance to PWDs, who are one of the most marginalized sectors of society,” the lawmaker said.
“The granting of this benefit to PWDs would surely help improve their living conditions,” he added.
Romualdez, who is running for a Senate seat this May elections, belied claims that the bill would have a big impact on the government’s revenue collection because it entails an estimated loss of more than P1 billion a year.
He said the measure would not severely affect tax collection since PWDs only comprise about three percent of the entire population.
If approved by the President, Romualdez said the PWDs will be accorded by the same privilege currently enjoyed by senior citizens, who are also exempted from the VAT by virtue of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
Apart from the leaders and members of TWHI and NVAP, among the attendees of the forum were individuals from the party-list group Pilipino With Disabilities.
Romualdez is a common senatorial candidate under the tickets of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
He is also being endorsed by the 40-man Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc.