Know your PWD rights and privileges

1 September 2013

Persons with disabilities (PWD) have a right to live the same way as any other human being. Their disability is not a hindrance to live a fruitful and fulfilling life.

PWDs get married, have children, go to work, and play sports like everyone else. They are not a burden on the community, their family or friends. PWDs have the same right as everyone to take part in society. Here in the Philippines, a PWD Identification Card authenticates each Pinoy PWD's rights and privileges.

''Am I eligible for a PWD ID? How can I get one? What are its benefits?'' I've been encountering these kind of questions quite a lot these past few days from my friends who have a disability, a chronic illness or are taking care of someone with special needs. I realized that my friends aren't the only people who need the information about it and so I decided to share with you the purpose and requirements for a PWD ID.

If you are a Pinoy PWD, you have the right to a couple of benefits and special privileges mandated by the law. PWD Identification Cards shall be issued to any bonafide PWD with permanent disabilities due to any one or more of the following conditions: psychosocial, chronic illness, learning, mental, visual, orthopedic, speech and hearing conditions. This includes persons suffering from disabling diseases resulting to their limitations to do day-to-day activities as normally as possible. But these are not limited to those undergoing dialysis, heart disorders, severe cancer cases and other similar cases resulting to temporary or permanent disability.

The privileges of a Pinoy PWD are quite a lot.

• At least 20 percent discount at all establishments relative to the utilization of all services in hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation.

• A minimum of 20 percent discount on admission fees in theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement.

• At least 20 percent discount on medicines in all drugstores.

• At least 20 percent discount on medical and dental services including diagnostic and laboratory fees for x-rays, computerized tomography scans, blood tests and professional fees of attending doctors in all public and private hospitals and medical facilities.

• At least 20 percent discount on fare for domestic air and sea travel, public railways, skyways and bus fare.

• Younger PWDs who meet minimum admission requirements get educational assistance for primary, secondary, tertiary, post tertiary, as well as vocational or technical education, in both public and private schools, through scholarships, grants, financial aids, subsidies and other incentives. This may also include support for books, learning materials, and uniform allowance.

• Five percent discount on groceries like basic necessities and prime commodities.

• Priority and express lanes in all commercial and government establishments for PWDs.

• Priority access to government-mandated assistance projects, scholarships and livelihood opportunities.

Every Pinoy PWD can avail of these privileges, according to Republic Act 9442 amending RA 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons and For Other Purposes. This shall be implemented by several government agencies and LGUs through issuance of PWD IDs and booklets.

To apply for a PWD ID, the person or his/her caregiver can secure an application from either of the following government offices: Office of the Mayor, barangay office, NCDA, DSWD Offices or participating organizations with memorandum of agreements with the Department of Health. Bring two copies of the applicant's 1x1 picture with thumbmark and signature at the back. Obtain a clinical abstract duly signed by any licensed private or government clinic or hospital-based physician. The clinical abstract will be used as basis to match the actual health condition of a PWD. The application and first issuance of the identification card is free. Renewal of the ID after three years comes with a minimal fee.

Just now, I hurriedly reached for my PWD ID and realized that it will be expiring in two months. My mom and I need to visit the NCDA office in our city hall soon to renew our IDs. My mom is a PWD too because persons with chronic illnesses like Lupus are also part of the society and can enjoy what is meant for everyone.

Educate yourself and read the contents of RA 9442 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

Robert Hensel aptly describes what we all yearn for. "We, the ones who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has, and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as a handicap, but as a well intact human being.''

For more inquiries, call the National Council on Disability Affairs at (632) 9298879, email council@ncda.gov.ph or visit http://www.ncda.gov.ph.