PWDs call for stronger protection of their rights

July 19, 2013 10:23 am

MORE opportunities for employment and increased accessibility to public transportation, offices, malls and other public facilities were the main concerns raised by persons with disabilities (PWDs) during the forum on Thursday on the Incheon Strategy for PWDs held at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) office in Malacañang.

PWDs present at the forum acknowledged the programs that were presented by government panelists but expressed concern that companies still prefer able-bodied persons for employment. They hope that the government can provide special accommodations or coordinate with the private sector in hiring more PWDs for employment.

A participant shared anecdotes of elderly PWDs being rejected by bus drivers because they are slow in boarding buses because of their condition. She suggested that government impose stiffer penalties on these drivers for them to feel the injustice and discrimination against the PWDs.

Other concerns shared by PWDs are their difficulty in riding the LRT and the MRT, offices and malls that lack special facilities for PWDs. They also want television companies to include sign language interpretation in their programs.

Panelists from various government agencies presented ongoing programs that are being implemented to promote the rights of PWDs.

National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) sectoral representative Engr. Emerito Rojas said the National Council on Disability Affairs has been pushing for the implementation of Executive Order No. 417, which ensures markets for products and services of PWDs, their cooperatives and other organizations engaged in business.

Furthermore, lawyer Ruben Fondevilla, Department of Justice (DOJ) assistant secretary, said the agency is currently reviewing laws and policies for PWDs and assured that the government is committed on enforcing stronger protection of the disabled.

Fondevilla said that President Benigno Aquino 3rd has recently signed Republic Act No. 10524 which mandates that at least one percent of government agencies, offices, or corporations be reserved for PWDs. Consultations are now being done with PWDs for the formulation of its implementing rules and regulations.

He added that the DOJ has installed elevators in its building to facilitate accessibility for the disabled.

Edna Sacedor, head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s National Vocational Rehabilitation Center (DSWD-NVRC), presented the skills training and livelihood programs, social adjustment and medical and dental services for PWDs.

A representative from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) discussed the department’s Tulong Alalay sa Taong May Kapansanan (Tulay) Project. In this program, skills training suited to the PWD’s interests, potentials and circumstances shall be developed and conducted in selected government and private training institutions to enhance their employability. PWDs whose qualifications are suited for wage employment shall be referred to private companies or government agencies where job vacancies are made available for them.

The forum entitled “10 Goals to Make the Right Real” is organized by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Bureau of Communication Services (BCS) in partnership with the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-Pinoy), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), and the DBM as part of activities for the National Disability and Prevention Week.

The discussion introduces the Incheon Strategy as adopted by the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific to “Make the Right Real” for PWDs in the Asia and Pacific region. It aims to generate awareness and sensitivity to the needs of PWDs as well as on the laws that promote their welfare and protect their rights. It also seeks to encourage support to government programs being implemented for them.

Governments of the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) region gathered in Incheon, South Korea to chart the course of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities for 2013-2022 on October 29 to November 2012. The Philippines is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Optional Protocol.

The Incheon Strategy comprises of 10 goals, 27 targets, and 67 indicators, which provides the Asia-Pacific region and the world with the first set of regionally agreed disability-inclusive development goals.

Billed as a framework in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Asia and the Pacific region,

The “Incheon Strategy on Disability Inclusive Development Goals” include has 10 goals namely: 1. Reduce poverty and enhance employment prospects; 2. Promote participation in political process and decision making; 3. Enhance access to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge and information and communication; 4. Strengthen social protection; 5. Expand early intervention and education of children with disabilities; 6. Ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment; 7. Ensure inclusion of disability perspectives in disaster preparedness and management; 8. Improve disability data reality and comparability; 9. Accelerate the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and harmonization of national legislation with the Convention; and 10. Advance sub-regional, regional and interregional cooperation. PNA