Philippines: Team Unity Supports Measures for Disabled, Indigents

May. 07, 2007

MANILA — With the new pro-poor laws signed by President Arroyo, Team Unity candidates have vowed to push more legislative measures in the next Congress that would further help the less privileged and marginalized sectors of society.

Team Unity senatorial candidates lauded President Arroyo’s signing into law of two measures — one granting more benefits to disabled persons and the other prohibiting the detention of patients by hospitals or clinics for non-payment of medical bills.

Republic Act 9442 imposes, among others, a fine of up to P200,000 for subjecting persons with disability (PWD) to verbal abuse and public ridicule.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are an estimated 8.4 million, or one in every 10 Filipinos, who have disabilities. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a study, meanwhile, that 70 per cent of disabled Filipinos are living in rural areas.

The staggering figure of disabled Filipinos and the President’s deep commitment to alleviate the plight of those affected prompted Team Unity candidates to push legislative measures beneficial to physically impaired Filipinos.

Team Unity senatorial candidate Sultan Jamalul Kiram said Congress should look for ways and means to help ease the plight of PWDs.

Kiram said the government can also provide PWDs with skills training and livelihood opportunities.

“Aside from giving them health care services,” Kiram said, “we can also provide them job training and other opportunities for income generation.”

According to a report, one area in the country where there are many PWDs is Mindanao because of the continuing armed conflict between outlawed rebels and the military.

RA 9442, which amends RA 7227, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons,” provide them with 20 percent discounts on medical, dental fees, and diagnostic laboratory fees, and costs of medicines.

They will also be entitled to a 20 percent discount on domestic air and sea travel fares, and on fees for use of public transport facilities like railways and skyways and will be entitled to a 20 percent discount on PWD’s hotel and restaurant bills, and recreation and entertainment expenses at moviehouses, concert halls and carnivals.

Kiram said, “Team Unity’s legislative agenda is committed to provide every possible incentives to the disabled, especially the wounded soldier. It’s all part of our social payback program.”

A strong advocate of pro-poor programs, Kiram also hailed the new law prohibiting the holding of patients at hospital and clinics for reasons of unpaid hospitalization and fees on medical services.

Under RA 9439, patients may leave hospitals or other medical facilities upon issuing a promissory note to pay their bills, supported by mortgage or a guarantee of a co-maker. Patients are now also entitled to demand the release of medical certificates and other medical documents.

“Napakagandang tulong itong bagong batas na ipinalabas ng ating Pangulo para sa ating mga mahihirap kababayan,” Kiram said.###

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