It has been four months since the signing of the law expanding the tax breaks and other benefits for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and its Senate principal author is asking the responsible agencies to speed up the release of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“I hope that the IRR of Republic Act 10754 will be out soon. It’s the missing link in its full implementation. This is just a gentle reminder to all concerned,” Senator Ralph Recto said.
Signed by President Aquino on March 23, the law grants “a raft of tax breaks and other benefits for PWDs and their caregivers,” Recto said.
But without the IRR, which defines how its provisions will be “implemented, availed of, executed,” RA 10754 “is like a new car which sits in the garage but can’t be driven out yet,” the senator noted.
Under the said law, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will lead the drafting of the IRR.
However, because RA 10754 was signed in the closing months of the Aquino administration, “work on the IRR, which involved coordination and consultation with other agencies, was not completed for lack of time,” Recto explained.
“And the new administration is still only on its third week. So hopefully after they are done and over with the transition in the DSWD, they can resume work on the implementing rules of this very important law,” Recto said.
Recto believes that “the rules are forthcoming” because “one, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo is a very competent official; and two, she has been apprised as to the urgency of an IRR which millions of PWDs are waiting for.”
RA 10754, or the “Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability,” tasks the DSWD, in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Finance (DOF) and the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) to formulate the law’s IRR.
Recto said the crafting of the IRR is important as it is seen by affected entities, like drug stores, as a requisite before they can carry out the provision of the law discounting purchases made by PWDs.
Recto, however, countered that “there ought to be no delay because there is an existing template, the one granted to senior citizens, insofar as discounts on purchases are made.”
The law, he explained, merely grants to PWDs benefits already enjoyed by seniors, “so we’re not starting from scratch. There is a tried system already in place. From points of sale sa stores, may sistema na.”
Although the law contains the provision “ that failure of the concerned agencies to promulgate the (IRR) shall not prevent the implementation of this Act upon its effectivity,” Recto said “for purposes of clear implementation, there is still no substitute for a set of written implementing rules.”
“The automatic implementation clause kicks in only when there is deliberate move to deny or delay the release of the IRR. But I don’t think that’s happening. I am optimistic that the rules will soon be released,” Recto said.
The expanded PWD benefits law exempts PWDs from all sales taxes on certain goods and services, like transport fares, medicines, medical and dental services and laboratory fees, raising the discount to 32 percent.
It also grants a P25,000 annual income tax deduction to relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, who are caring for and living with a PWD.
This as Recto refiled the bill he had been advocating in the last two Congresses that PWDs be granted automatic PhilHealth coverage.
“This is a good sequel to RA 10754,” Recto said.
Once signed into law, it will bring under PhilHealth’s umbrella an estimated 1.44 million PWDs in the country.
Payment for their membership will come from Sin Tax Law collections which reached P141.8 billion last year.
06 MAY 2016: Recto: Discount para sa PWD inutil ‘pag walang IRR
06 APR 2016: Recto: Dinky vows fast release of PWD law’s IRR
30 MAR 2016: Recto: P25,000 tax break for PWD caregivers