Lawmakers call for review, 'crackdown' on fake PWDs

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 21) — Two party-list representatives are calling on several government offices to look into the alleged abuse of an act providing for discounts for persons with disabilities (PWDs).

In a statement on Sunday, Congressmen Ronnie Ong of the Ang Probinsyano Party-list and Eric Yap of ACT-CIS called on the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Council on Disability Affairs for a review of the implementation of Republic Act 10754 or the Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability and take action against people pretending to be PWDs.

Both lawmakers said the unauthorized use of PWD cards to get discounts will push businesses which are already struggling due to the COVID-19 crisis to the brink.

"Under the law, PWDs are given an automatic 20 percent direct discount and are VAT exempt on purchases of certain goods and services from all establishments for their exclusive use, among many other privileges," the statement said.

Ong said he was supportive of RA 10754, but the statement said it had "very little safeguard against impersonating a PWD and there is not even a uniform specification on the proof of entitlement which makes it very easy for people to make fake PWD identification cards."

He suggested the recall of all old PWD cards and have either the DOH of NCDA to fully verify before new ones are issued. The creation of a national database and unique codes for each PWD should also be issued for verification when claiming discounts.

Yap was in favor of Ong's suggestions.

“The key is to develop an automated system. Through this, it will be easier to store and manage data. This system will contain all the PWD’s information, which will make it easier to verify whether an individual is indeed a PWD. All LGUs (local government unit) report to one centralized system so verification is easier,” Yap said.

Yap said he has received complaints against people who did not have disabilities but were using PWD cards.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry said it was investigating reports of alleged abuse of PWD cards after a post on social media where an entire family had them.

"Abuse of privilege in any law ruins the spirit behind it. Such discount is solely meant for actual persons with disability. DTI, through the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB), is currently investigating the matter," Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a separate statement from the DTI on Sunday.

Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Group Ruth Castelo added, "We are currently dealing with the matter and will file appropriate action against those found having fake PWD cards."