‘Unqualified PWD cardholders may have enjoyed P12K aid’

Cebu City Information Office
SAMPLE ID. A private firm demonstrates security features of the proposed identification cards for Cebu City’s persons with disabilities after the discovery of the irregularity in the release of IDs. / Cebu City Information Office

ABLE-BODIED individuals who benefited from the sale of PWD identification cards in Cebu City may have enjoyed not only discounts on any purchase but also the P12,000 annual financial assistance.

City Councilor James Anthony Cuenco, who exposed the sale of persons with disabilities (PWD) identification cards (IDs), said most of the names on the falsified ID cards surrendered were in the city’s database of beneficiaries.

“We realized that the fake PWD ID scam is a lot worse than we thought,” Cuenco told SunStar Cebu.

Cuenco said his team found out that, upon validation of the falsified PWD IDs, their names and personal details were registered in the PWD database of the city.

“This means that they could avail of the P12,000 annual financial assistance given out by the city,” Cuenco said.

The team also found out that the name of the person who processed and printed the falsified IDs that have been surrendered to them is the same.

The councilor, during his privilege speech, filed a resolution inviting Cerj Germudo, John Tolentino and Jay-R Cam, all from the office of suspended Mayor Michael Rama, and JJ Laurel, formerly assigned to the Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS) but now with the Road Management Authority, to another executive session to shed light on the allegations.

An executive session is set for June 6, where they’ve invited members of the DSWS-PWD unit and the Management Information and Computer Services.

Cuenco said the person involved will be subjected to a thorough investigation by a trusted lawyer at the City Attorney’s Office so that they may point to the mastermind and their cohorts.

“We expect to file appropriate administrative and criminal cases by the middle of June,” Cuenco said.

Cuenco, in a privilege speech on May 22, 2024, asked the City Council to investigate the alleged falsification of PWD IDs that are being sold for about P2,000 to P4,000 to able-bodied individuals.

He said able-bodied individuals could obtain PWD cards in Cebu City without fulfilling official requirements by simply paying a fee. These cards, which should require medical certificates and personal verification, are reportedly also given for free to high-profile figures like mayors and celebrities nationwide, highlighting the ease of abuse in the system.

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

It also resulted in unfair advantages, economic harm to local businesses through reduced sales revenue and decreased business tax revenue for the City.

The councilor said in the initial investigation they found out that as early as August 2023, certain city employees assigned to the mayor’s office were involved in the sale of PWD IDs.

The initial investigation noted the loose security features of the ID, making it easy to reproduce.

New PWD ID

Meanwhile, Acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia shared that representatives from a private firm, which has proposed to assist the City in issuing new IDs, showcased the security features of the proposed ID card.

The features include a unique quick response (QR) code and fingerprint for every cardholder.

The acting mayor, in an immediate response to the expose of Cuenco, ordered the suspension of the printing of PWD IDs.

He also ordered a revamp of employees at the PWD office while an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Garcia said the new PWD ID system will have a facial recognition feature.

Interviewed over City Hall’s digital program on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, Garcia said he plans to include the registered senior citizen in the deployment of the new ID system.

The existing PWD cards are mere computer printouts with limited security features that will protect them from being falsified.

Under Republic Act 10754, PWDs are entitled to the following benefits: discounts on goods and services, educational assistance, express lanes and tax deductions for establishments.

A PWD under Cebu City’s Ordinance 2456, or the Ordinance Granting P12,000 annual financial assistance to Qualified Persons with Disability in Cebu City, is an individual who experiences limitations or altered capabilities due to mental, physical, or sensory impairments that hinder their ability to function in a way that is typically expected of a human being.

Trending

No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.
www.sunstar.com.ph