After two and a half months since it was ratified, the House of Representatives finally transmitted to Malacañang Wednesday for President Benigno Aquino III’s signature the “malasakit” (compassionate) bill of senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez exempting persons with disabilities from the payment of 12-percent value-added tax on certain goods and services.
House Secretary-General Marilyn Barua-Yap said the House Records Management Service has sent to the Palace House Bill 1039 which the Leyte congressman describes as an equalizing measure that would accord PWDs exactly the same privilege being enjoyed by senior citizens who are exempted from VAT payment.
“It [PWD bill] was transmitted to Malacañang,” Yap said.
To expedite the process of making the bill a law, the regular route is for the House Bills and Index Service transmitting the measure to the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.
The measure was ratified by the House of Representatives and the Senate before Congress adjourned for Christmas break last December, and was signed by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon just last February.
Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association, said: “The proposed law grants 12-percent VAT exemption to PWDs on certain goods and services. My bill will put PWDs on equal footing with senior citizens who are already exempted from VAT payment on top of their 20-percent discount.”
He was referring to Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability” as amended by RA No. 9442 giving PWDs 20-percent discount.
The transmittal came after the call of various organizations of PWDs for Belmonte to transmit to Malacañang the bill to determine whether President Benigno Aquino III will sign this into law or suffer the fate of vetoed Social Security System bill raising by P2,000 the monthly pension of its members.
Manuel Agcaoili, president/chief operating officer of Tahanang Walang Hagdanan Inc., and Emer Rojas, Cancer Alleviation Network on Care Education and Rehabilitation party-list nominee, said Belmonte has no good reason to keep Romualdez’s HB No. 1039 in the Bills and Index Service after he signed it along with Drilon who is running for reelection and Yap.
HB 1039 of Romualdez and Senate Bill 2890 “seek to amend Section 32 of Republic Act 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability” as amended by RA No. 9442 to exempt the PWDs from the payment of VAT.
Agcaoili maintained that there are almost 10 million physically and mentally PWDs in the country or 10 percent of the country’s 100 million population based on the estimates by the World Health Organization in the third world countries.
But the Philippine Statistics Authority only pegged the number of PWDs in the country at almost 1.5 million.
Romualdez, who ran unopposed in the last polls and a former chairman of the House committee on ethics and privileges, was joined by Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, who chairs the House committee on ways and means, in pushing for the proposal while the Senate authors include Senator Juan Edgardo Angara who is the chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means that deliberated the measure, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto who is a reelectionist, Senators Bam Aquino and Nancy Binay.
The PWD bill would also allow the relatives, up to the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, taking care of handicapped measures to claim a tax deduction of P25,000 in their annual income tax.
“Persons with disability effectively enjoy only P12 for every P100 worth of good or service because the law does not exempt them from VAT, which is imposed on the net value of the good or service or 10 percent of the P80 after deducting P20, representing the 20 percent discount granted in RA 9442, for every P100 worth of good or service purchased,” Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc and a three-term congressman who is running for the Senate under a platform anchored on compassionate governance, explained.
Romualdez said the proposed VAT exemption shall apply on the following: medical and dental services; purchase of medicines in all drugstores; public railways, skyways and bus fare; admission fees charged by theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other places of culture, leisure and amusement; and all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants, and recreation centers.
The passage of the bill into law would exempt PWDs from paying the 12 percent VAT on top of the 20 percent discount they were entitled to on particular goods and services
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