SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Persons with disabilities (PDWs) will soon have wider participation in the formulation and implementation of policies, plans and programs for the promotion of their welfare.
The congressional bicameral conference committee has approved the proposed law establishing an institutional mechanism to ensure the implementation of programs and services for PWDs, amending Republic Act 7277 otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons,” as amended.
Senate Bill 3560, which incorporated provisions of House Bill 1387, calls for the organization and creation of Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) by the local government units (LGUs) in every province, city and municipality.
Authors of House Bill 1387 are, among others, Reps. Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), Reno G. Lim (3rd District, Albay), Faysah RPM. Dumarpa (1st District, Lanao del Sur), Monica Prieto-Teodoro (1st District, Tarlac) and Adelina Rodriguez-Zaldarriaga (2nd District, Rizal).
The measure tasks the local chief executive to appoint a PWD affairs officer who shall manage and oversee the operations of PDAO, giving priority to qualified PWDs to head and man the said office.
The appointed PWD affairs officer is charged to carry out several functions such as to formulate and implement new policies, plans, and programs for the promotion of the welfare of PWDs in coordination with concerned national and local government agencies.
The PWD affairs officer is likewise directed to coordinate the implementation of the provisions of this Act, Batas Pambansa Blg. 344 otherwise known as the Accessibility Law and other relevant laws at the local level.
He/she shall also represent PWDs in meetings of local development councils and other special bodies as well as recommend and enjoin the participation of NGOs and POs in the implementation of all disability-related laws and policies.
Aside from gathering and compiling relevant data on PWDs in their localities, it is also the duty of the PWD affairs officer to disseminate information including, but not limited to, programs and activities for PWDs, statistics on PWDs, including their children with disability, and training and employment opportunities for PWDs.
The PWD affairs officer can also seek donations in cash or in kind from local or foreign donor to implement an approved workplan for PWDs, in accordance with existing laws and regulations.
For municipalities with budgetary restraints, the measure allows the local chief executives, in lieu of the creation of a PDAO, to designate a focal person who shall perform the functions of the PDAO, giving priority to a PWD with experience in providing services to PWDs.
The establishment of a PDAO or the appointment of a focal person, as the case may be, shall be done in consultation and coordination with the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations (Pos).
Other authors of HB 1387 are Reps. Carmencita O. Reyes (Lone District, Marinduque), Trinidad G. Apostol (2nd District, Leyte), Ma. Victoria R. Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Luzviminda C. Ilagan (Party-List, GABRIELA), Maria Evita R. Arago (3rd District, Laguna), Salvacion S. Ponce-Enrile (1st District, Cagayan), Eduardo C. Zialcita (1st District, Parañaque City), Carmen L. Cari (5th District, Leyte), Rizalina L. Seachon-Lanete (3rd District, Masbate), Edgardo M. Chatto (1st District, Bohol) and Nerissa Corazon Soon-Ruiz (6th District, Cebu).