In the midst of a global pandemic, PWD IDs are just not the priority issues we want to hear about, but sadly, we are here and we are going to talk about it.
A month ago, former senator Jinggoy Estrada went online to complain about a group of siblings and family members who got PWD IDs for alleged visual disability. These issues were issued by the Quezon City Hall’s PDAO or persons with disability affairs office. Since 2017, the function of issuing these IDs to those living with disabilities have become the responsibility of the local government units, no longer solely of the Dept of Social Welfare and Development, though they still retain the authority to issue PWD IDs in certain cases.
Discounts hurting the economy?
Stephen Cua, President of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, did say that the discounts of given to fake IDs hurt the earnings of the supermarkets. If ever these bogus discounts were ever reimbursed by the government, in my opinion, it wouldn’t be enough to bring down the economy, perhaps not in the same way that a chinese rogue virus just did, but I seriously don’t think it is the economy killer it is being painted to be.
PWD Philippines believes that fake IDs must be stopped from proliferating because this type of fraud will lead to serious damage to the integrity of the PWD ID. Persons with disabilities have already reported harassment from people who doubt their PWD IDs, especially for those whose disabilities are non-apparent. I share the opinion of many in the community that the PWD ID should not be questioned. If you have one, then your rights must be recognized, the discounts given, the discrimination ended.
A congressional roundtable discussion
In February 2020, PWD Philippines was invited to a congressional roundtable discussion with some party-list congressmen. It was attended by some of the biggest organizations in the community along with representatives of the industries that are obliged to give PWD discounts, such as Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association and Drugstores Association pf the Philippines. PWD Philippines opened the idea of making an online national database of all issued PWD IDs so that any establishment who wants to verify a PWD ID can easily do so online, without the need to ask the ID holder with all sorts of humiliating, prying and embarrassing questions.
I’m not sure if the party-list congressmen or the others in that roundtable discussion were aware of the DOH PWD ID online registry. They call it the Philippine Registry for Persons with Disabilities. This is an online database that allows the user to check the veracity of a PWD ID by entering its ID number and the database will verify the identity of the ID holder and if it is still valid, not expired. Expired PWD IDs are not entitled to any discount or preferential treatment. This database is very much active today. However, there seems to be no intention of using or updating this online database. Many of the IDs registered in this national database were issued in 2015 and so by today, these IDs would have been expired. In my opinion, putting together a new database would be unnecessarily redundant and waste of taxpayer’s money. The infrastructure is already in place, it needs only to be updated.
Some years back, the PWD ID was known to have been issued to some chinese nationals as a way of falsely identifying themselves as Filipino citizens and getting the discounts as an added perk. Corrupt officials on the city or municipal level are usually the ones responsible. With the arrival of the wuhan virus, many PWDs were left confused as to their entitlesments regarding the social amelioration program.
PWDs have been used and abused for the longest time. We need to have a champion in Congress, where our cause will not be used to enrich the pockets of corrupt officials. It is time for the Philippines to be aware of our right to be included in all aspects of nation building.