SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House committee on ways and means chaired by Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua (Lone District, Quirino) has approved a provision of a bill on eye screening for kindergarten pupils that exempts from tax donations to the program.
Donations for the National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) and the Vision Screening Continuing Research (VSCR) Fund coursed through the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH) or Philippine Eye Research Institute (PERI) shall also be considered allowable deduction from the gross income of the donor under House Bill 3222 establishing the NVSP for kindergarten pupils.
HB 3222, authored by Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, is the consolidated version with HB 1387 filed by Rep. Alfred Vargas III (5th District, Quezon City) and HB 2822 by Rep. Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija). The bill mandates public schools to screen eye vision of kindergarten pupils.
Cayetano said many eye disorders and ailments can be detected and resolved at an early stage so they don't lead to blindness. She also said that poor vision early in life affects the child’s performance in school, or the way they interact with the community.
“Because children cannot, by themselves, identify that they have eye problems, studies recommend that vision screening should ideally be conducted for children starting at age three,” Cayetano said.
Normal eye alignment during infancy and childhood is also important, according to Cayetano.
Cayetano said vision screening is cost-effective since there are minimal requirements for the tests, such as penlights or charts made specifically for vision screening.
HB 3222 provides that the DepEd implement the NSVP in coordination with the DOH, with the funds to be included in the two agencies’ budgets in the General Appropriations Act.
HB 3222 also provides that the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation develop a benefit package for the consultation and treatment of eye diseases of children, while PERI will train vision screening trainers.
Representatives of the Department of Finance and the National Tax Research Center expressed support for the bill during the committee's hearing presided by Cua. / CMBE