Caring for our PWDs

Published by rudy Date posted on May 20, 2011
DID you know that roughly ten percent of a country’s population are persons with disability? This, according to the National Council on Disability Affairs which cites the United Nations as its source. So if we are now a population of 90 million, which is data as of 2008, then it is safe to say that nine million Filipinos are afflicted with some sort of disability.
We are supposedly a caring nation. That is the reason why our OFWs are most sought after and in demand overseas. Yet in our own country, it is ironic how very few care about our PWDs. Under Republic Act no.7277 which later was amended thru R.A. No. 9442, persons with disabilities have equal rights and privileges.
PWDs are defined as those suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Impairment means any loss, diminution or aberration of psychological, physiological, or anatomical structure or function as differentiated from disability which means physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more psychological, physiological or anatomical function of an individual or activities of an individual. Handicap on the other hand, refers to a disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or a disability that limits or prevents the function or activity that is considered normal given the age and sex of the individual.
I have recently been designated Chair of the Committee on Media Collaboration, a committee under the sub-committee on Advocacy of the National Council on Disability Affairs. As such, you can expect me to be seeking support in the coming days to help raise awareness and compliance to the law.
One of the remarkable provisions of the Law is that which penalizes the utterance of slanderous and abusive statements and doing an activity in public that incite hatred resulting in the loss of self-esteem of PWDs whether in writing or orally.
Chapter one section 39 provides “public ridicule shall be defined as an act of making fun or contemptuous imitating or making mockery of persons with disability whether in writing, or in words, or in action due to their impairment/s.” Section 40 further states “no individual shall execute any of these acts of ridicule against persons with disability in any time and place which could intimidate or result in loss of self-esteem of the latter.”
There are stiff penalties, mind you. Violators of this provision shall be meted a penalty by law, as stated in its implementing rules and regulations published on January 21, 2008, of a fine not less than fifty thousand pesos or imprisonment of not less than six months for the first violation. If the violator is a corporation, organization or any similar entity, the officials thereof directly involved shall be liable therefor. If the violator is an alien or a foreigner, he shall be deported immediately after service of sentence without further deportation proceedings.
Upon filing of an appropriate complaint against the violator, and after due notice and hearing, the proper authorities may also cause the cancellation or revocation of the business permit, permit to operate, franchise and other similar privileges granted to any business entity that fails to abide by the provisions fo this Act.
Republic Act No. 7277 also provides at least a 20 percent discount for persons with disabilities from the cost of land, sea and air transportation, from admission fees charged by theater, and other recreation and amusement centers, from restaurant and lodging establishment bills. Also subject to a 20 percent discount are medicines bought from drugstores and medical and dental services including diagnostic and laboratory fees, subject to guidelines issued by the Department of Health in coordination with the Philhealth. PWDs also get special discounts on basic necessities and prime commodities.
Other privileges granted by the law include educational assistance to PWDs for them to pursue primary, secondary, tertiary, post-tertiary as well as vocational and technical education in public and private schools, through scholarship grants. Express lanes must also be provided for them by both private commercial and government establishments. These privileges are for the exclusive use/enjoyment of persons with disabilities.
If there are penalties, there are also incentives for benefactors. Those caring for and living with a person with disability shall be granted tax incentives in accordance with the provisions of the National Internal Revenue Code.
God is great! –THELMA DUMPIT-MURILLO, Manila Times

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