80% of gov’t buildings in Davao City not PWD-friendly – official

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 July) — At least 80 percent of the government buildings in the city are inaccessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs), an official said.

In Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, Teogenes Comiling, officer-in-charge of the PWD Affairs Office of the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), said most government buildings lack features like ramps that can help differently-abled clients who come for transactions.

Section 25 of Republic Act (RA) No. 7277 provides: “The state shall ensure the attainment of a barrier-free environment that will enable disabled persons to have access in public and private buildings and establishments and such other places mentioned in Batas Pambansa Bilang (BPB) 344.”

Most of these infrastructures were old and built before the enactment of BPB 344, also known as “Accessibility Law”, on July 26, 1982.

Even with the absence of PWD-friendly features in buildings, Comiling said government agencies must see to it that their services must be made accessible to PWDs.

“For us in CSSDO, we have an office downstairs for the PWDs,” he said, adding that other officials with whom PWD clients are transacting must go down if their offices are located upstairs.

He said the regional office of Department of Education XI has ramps but they are placed with flower pots while the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s new building can’t be accessed by the differently-abled clients at all.

On July 17 to 23, the National Disability Prevention Week (NDPR) Week will be held where around 200 PWDs are expected to gather.

The event carries the theme “Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities, Opportunities towards an Inclusive Development for All”.

Dr. Sharon Valdez, Department of Health (DOH) XI cluster head for non-communicable disease, said they encourage differently-abled individuals to join as it will help them find a support group that will boost their self-esteem.

There will also be discussions on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and free medical check-up.

Organizers of the week-long celebration will launch the first-ever Search for Outstanding PWD in Mindanao in which eight contestants have already been identified to vie for the honor.

Contestants will be judged based on their advocacies and stories on how they survive the challenges as a PWD. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)