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House panel OKs bill providing P750 financial support to PWDs

A House of Representatives panel approved a measure yesterday that provides for an annual P750 emergency grant to persons with disabilities during the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis.

During its virtual hearing, the House Special Committee on Persons with Disabilities, chaired by Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo (Neg. Occ., 5th District), approved House Bill 7180, or the Covid-19 Emergency Health Grant for Persons with Disabilities Act.

Arroyo, who was also author of the bill, said disability is not accounted for in existing anti-poverty measures of the government, which is reflected in the lack of targeted programs for the sector even with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

She noted that members of the PWD community, who are undisputedly identified as vulnerable and eligible beneficiaries of the Social Amelioration Program, have “essentially been excluded” from being able to obtain the much-needed support and assistance from their fair share of the SAP.

The bill seeks to provide targeted financial assistance, called “emergency disability health grants” to PWDs to help cover disability-related costs acquired from the Covid-19 pandemic and under the new normal.

The P750 grant shall be given as an annual lump sum. The grant will follow the cash transfer mechanism.

The DSWD shall be the lead agency in the implementation of the proposed law and will ensure that the PWDs will get immediate, secure, and direct access to the cash grant.

The committee also approved House Bill 9243, that would grant additional benefits to PWDs.

It would amend for the purpose Republic Act 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

When enacted into law, PWDs would be entitled to a monthly stipend of P500 to augment their daily subsistence and other medical needs.

Meanwhile, National Council on Disability Affairs executive director, Emerito Rojas, said that Congress must consider the fund availability and source, identification of qualified recipients, and cost-benefit analyses in finalizing the bills.*PNA

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