Creation of PWD offices a must, but only few LGUs complied PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 18 May 2018 12:08

By Dominic I. Sanchez

Every local government unit (LGU)  must have an office to address persons with disabilities (PWD) affairs, the law dictates. Yet, only a handful had established such an office to date.

World Blind Union (WBU) Asia Pacific President Teddy Kahil is saddened by the fact that in Region 9, only Zamboanga City, Dapitan City, Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay, Sindangan and Manuel Roxas towns in Zamboanga del Norte have a Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). Others have only designated a focal person for this purpose.

“This is mandated by law,” Kahil said, citing Republic Act 10070, or the amendment to the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

As per experience, Kahil relates that LGUs fail to establish PDAOs due to lack of budget. “But they have the option to waive the budget ceiling,” he said. “There is no reason not to establish a PDAO.

As per RA 10070, provinces, cities and 1st to 3rd class municipalities are mandated to establish the PDAO, supported by a local ordinance. Only 4th to 6th class municipalities are mandated to have focal persons only.

“They may not be that aware of the law, and some see that the office and its positions are redundant,” he added. “But what they don’t realize is that the PDAO is not a program, it is a structure.”

In the Zamboanga Peninsula region, PWD issues remain such as lack of employment and livelihood opportunities and buildings’ non-compliance to the Accessibility Law. Several government buildings themselves said Kahil are still non-compliant.

In the Zamboanga Peninsula region, one PWD issue – the non-compliance to the Accessibility Law of buildings and establishments remain. Kahil, a social worker sees this as an injustice to PWDs. “PWDs should be given the same access as non-PWDs,” he said.

Another issue is the lack of employment and livelihood opportunities. Although private companies in Zamboanga have now been hiring more and more PWDs, there are still those that remain in poverty and isolation. “We do not have an official count, but many are deprived of opportunities.”

This is also one of the reasons why Kahil is pushing for the PWD identification cards in all areas in Region 9.

Still, as observed, disaster plans and early warning devices are not PWD-sensitive. “Take for example the sirens. If there is a disaster and only the siren sounds, the deaf are not alarmed.”

These are just some of the reasons that makes establishment of PDAOs a priority, said Kahil. (DIS/PIA9-Zamboanga City)