DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) – The National Council on Disability Affairs scored LGUs from all over the country a 2 out of 10 in terms of compliance of accessibility laws and the implementation of guidelines governing employment and assistance for persons with disability (PWDs).
Speaking at Wednesday’s Club 888 weekly media forum at the Marco Polo Davao, NCDA deputy executive director Mateo A. Lee Jr. said local governments still have a long way to go for a full compliance of accessibility laws like Batas Pambansa 344 (An Act to Enhance the Mobility of Disabled Persons by Requiring Certain Buildings, Institutions, Establishments and Public Utilities to install Facilities and Other) as well as laws protecting PWDs.
Republic Act 10070 (An Act Establishing An Institutional Mechanism To Ensure The Implementation of Programs And Services For Persons With Disabilities In Every Province, City And Municipality), for example, mandates the establishment of a persons with disabilities affairs office (PDAO) in each LGU.
Republic Act 10524 (An Act Expanding the Positions Reserved for Persons with Disability) requires government offices to allot at least one percent of their workforce for PWDs.
Laws like the Building Code grants accessibility for PWDs.
Lee said the first measure of an LGU’s compliance of accessibility laws is the accessibility of its city hall.
City halls and district hospitals having ramps that would allow mobility for PWDs riding wheelchairs would have been minimum for LGUs.
Carmen Zubiaga, NCDA acting executive director, said it is working with several government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment to match jobs with skilled PWDs.
Zubiaga said the NCDA is assisting LGUs like Davao City with drafting the implementing rules and regulations of its PDAO.
She added that they are also coordinating with agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways regarding the implementation of accessibility laws along national highways and other infrastructure.
“We don’t want PWDs to always be ‘referred’ to the DSWD,” Zubiaga said. “There are skilled workers among them and we want to make the assistance readily available.”
Lee added that they are also considering asking the DOLE or other job fair organizers for sign language interpreters so that qualified deaf and mute employees could find jobs that match their skills.
Last year, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte signed executive order 34, which mandated the local government to create its own PDAO.
City Social Services and Development Office head Maria Luisa Bermudo was quoted in a Vera Files article as saying that the city’s PWDs are currently under the care of the office.