Senator Sonny Angara has called for the full implementation of laws aimed at empowering PWDs with social protection and economic support.

“We have enough laws protecting PWDs, and all that needs to be done is to fully and strictly implement these laws so that we can eliminate the barriers that prevent them from being included and accepted in the society,” said Angara, in observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3.

According to Angara, these laws are designed to remove barriers to full social and economic inclusion of PWDs, such as inaccessible physical environments and transportation, gaps in service delivery, and discriminatory prejudice and stigma in society.

“Kailangannatingipadamanatinsakanilanasila ay suportado at tanggap ng lipunansapamamagitan ng pakikitungosakanila ng may respeto, dignidad at may pagkalinga. (We have to let them feel that they are supported and accepted by society by treating them well with respect, dignity, and care.),” Angara said.

One way of showing support for PWDs is to obey laws that aim to empower them, he added.

Under the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, PWDs are entitled to 20-percent discount for the purchase of medicines in all drugstores, medical and dental services including diagnostic and laboratory fees, and professional fees of attending doctors.

They are also entitled to the same discount from business establishments like hotels and restaurants, admission fees on theaters and movie houses, as well as transportation fare for domestic land, air and sea travel.

This law was authored by the late Senate President Ed Angara, who was also responsible for the senior citizens discount.

Such discount was expanded by the younger Angara who sponsored RA 10754 in 2016 which granted a 12-percent value-added tax exemption to PWDs.

To avail themselves of these benefits and privileges, one must apply for a PWD ID at the city or municipal social welfare office.

A Philippine Institute for Development Studies 2010 survey, however, showed that only about three in 10 PWDs in the rural areas were aware of the Magna Carta. Because of low awareness, PWDs also have very low participation in discount privileges mainly because they do not have the PWD ID and are unable to go out.

“These laws were passed to give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of PWDs and their integration into the mainstream society. Dapat ay gawing mas madaliangprosesosapagkuha ng ID upang mas maramisaatingmgakababayang may kapansananangmakinabangsamgabenepisyongito. (We should make the process of acquiring IDs easy so that more of our countrymen with disability can benefit from this law.),” the senator said.

The Magna Carta also provides protection for PWDs against ridicule and vilification. It likewise prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, housing, education, and access to public services.

Moreover, RA 10524 mandates all government agencies and offices to reserve at least one percent of all positions for PWDs.

The Accessibility Law under Batas Pambansa 344, on the other hand, requires certain buildings, institutions and establishments and public utilities to install facilities and other devices that would enhance the mobility of PWDs.

“These laws must be strictly implemented in order to ensure that PWDs have the same opportunity to access and benefit certain services in a similar way as others,” Senator Angara said. (BagongSenado)