PWD IDs ‘for sale’ for P2,000-P4,000

PROBE. Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco has called for a probe into the alleged sale of PWD ID’s to able-bodied individuals, saying it is a breach of trust and accountability and undermines the rigorous processes that genuine PWDs undergo.
PROBE. Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco has called for a probe into the alleged sale of PWD ID’s to able-bodied individuals, saying it is a breach of trust and accountability and undermines the rigorous processes that genuine PWDs undergo. Screengrab from Sangguniang Panlungsod Cebu City - Secretariat

A LOCAL legislator wants an investigation into the alleged falsification of person with disability (PWD) identification cards that are being sold for about P2,000 to P4,000 to able-bodied individuals.

Cebu City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, in an interview on Wednesday, May 22, 2024, said that this form of corruption must be stopped.

He said on Monday, May 20, that they were able to talk to an able-bodied individual who had obtained a PWD card after numerous inquiries.

He said the person informed them that, as early as last August, certain individuals connected with the mayor’s office were involved in the scheme.

Cuenco said his end game is to identify the mastermind, adding that once identified, the involved employees can become state witnesses for the case he will file, including falsification of government documents, among other charges.

In a privilege speech delivered on Wednesday, Cuenco resolved to invite Cerj Germudo, John Tolentino and Jay-R Cam, all from the office of suspended Mayor Michael Rama, and JJ Laurel, formerly assigned with the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) but is now with the Road Management Authority, to another executive session to shed light on the allegations.

He said there will be another executive session on June 6, where they’ve invited members of the DSWS-PWD unit and the Management Information and Computer Services.

“An able-bodied person pays a fee to these individuals and receives a printed blank PWD card without need to submit any of the official requirements -- no medical certificates, no interviews, no personal appearances. How convenient! According to our source, these cards are even given gratis to high profile public officials like mayors and celebrities outside of Cebu City because they are honored throughout the whole country,” Cuenco said during his speech.

He said the alleged scheme is a breach of trust and accountability and undermines the rigorous processes that genuine PWDs undergo.

He added that the alleged fraudulent use of these cards resulted in unfair advantages, economic harm to local businesses through reduced sales revenue and decreased business tax revenue for the City.

Cuenco urged the Office of the Mayor, now led by Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, to look into the matter and evaluate the DSWS-PWD unit.

He said measures must be implemented to review and strengthen the City’s PWD Assistance Program and audit the PWD masterlist.

He said updating the system to eliminate typewritten cards to ensure regular renewal and employing advanced technology for authentication are essential steps forward.

As a corollary motion, Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera moved to invite the National Council on the Disability Affairs to shed light on who can qualify to apply for an PWD card.

Pesquera also requested the DSWS to submit to the council on or before June 6 the list of registered PWDs and to indicate their disabilities.

Councilor Rey Gealon suggested letting the City Legal Office file appropriate cases within 15 days after a resolution is passed regarding the investigation.

However, Cuenco suggested allowing the persons allegedly involved to explain themselves and disclose the mastermind.

SunStar Cebu tried to obtain comments from Portia Basmayor, the current head of DSWS, but text messages and calls were left unanswered.

Based on the City’s records, there are currently more than 12,900 qualified PWDs in Cebu City.

Under Republic Act 10754, or an act expanding the benefits and privileges of PWDs, they are entitled to the following benefits: discounts on goods and services, educational assistance, express lanes and tax deductions for establishments.

According to the same law, PWDs are individuals of all ages who suffer from a permanent disability, including physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments that hinder their interactions with others are qualified to apply for a PWD ID.

In Cebu City, a qualified PWD, based on City Ordinance 2456, entitled an Ordinance Granting P12,000 Annual Financial Assistance to Qualified Persons with Disability of Cebu City, is defined as someone who is “suffering from restrictions or different abilities from the result of mental, physical or sensory impairment to perform an ability in the manner within the range considered normal for the human being.”

To receive the cash aid from the City, the PWD must be a registered voter in Cebu City. / AML

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