60% of buildings in SE Mindanao violate accessibility laws

Engineer Felix Lacierda, assistant division chief for planning and design at the Department of Public Works and Highways, presented the quarterly monitoring report at the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Leaders' Forum on Accessibility Rights

on July 21 at the SM City Entertainment Center.

The forum was held in line with the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week.

Only 34.5 percent of those monitored have functional areas located at the entrance and exit level. Thirty-two percent or 262 have accessible washrooms and toilets and only 21 percent have signages that guide persons with disabilities and the public.

Only 35.25 percent have non-skid floors and only 43.45 percent have ramps to
provide access for those in wheelchairs.

Southeastern Mindanao covers the cities of Davao, Tagum, Digos and Panabo and the provinces of Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, and Compostela Valley.

Only 65 have ramps accessible by wheelchairs of the 104 buildings monitored
in Davao del Norte, only 39 of 100 in Compostela Valley, 137 of 388 in Davao
del Sur, 74 of 106 in Davao City and 40 of 199 in Davao Oriental.

The lowest compliance, 21 percent, was in the putting of signage in entrances, pathways and function halls. Of 388 buildings monitored in Davao del Sur, only four have put up signs.

The country has two accessibility laws namely Batas Pambansa 344 of 1983 and Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

These laws seek to promote the realization of the rights of disabled persons to participate fully in the social life and the development of the societies in which they live and the enjoyment of the opportunities available to other citizens.

The Association of Differently-abled Persons (ADAP) had earlier said "we can't change our disabilities but we can change our environment so we can contribute to the building of our nation."

They noted that these laws have been compromised, as some buildings do not have structures for PWDs as mandated by Batas Pambansa 344. They also stressed that newly-built buildings have accessibility features but do not conform to proper specifications.

According to BP 344, all buildings put up since l983 should have accessibility structures. Those built earlier are exempt unless renovated. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)