By: Marites Badilla
THE Philippines has a close to 1,500 persons with disabilities (PWDs) who need more assistance from the government.
Government intervention appeared to be strategic for them not to be ignored by the private sector.
One of the government agencies that does its assignment to the PWDs is the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) as it promised to improve the government-run facilities for the seminar and training of PWDs on how to run a livelihood venture, or to enhance their skills for employment purposes.
DSWD’s promise is its resolve to carry out the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10524 or an “Act Expanding the Positions Reserved for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).”
DSWD Sec. Judy Taguiwalo said “Nais nating mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga kababayan nating may kapansanan upang sila’y maging produktibo at makapagtrabaho (We want to provide opportunities for our countrymen who have disabilities, so they would become productive and gain employment).”
“Inaamin naming kulang ang mga pasilidad at kailangan ding ayusin ang mga centers upang mas marami pang mga may kapansanan na indibidwal ang matulungan (We admit that facilities are lacking and we also need to improve our centers so more PWDs can be assisted),” she said.
Taguiwalo noted that some of the DSWD-run facilities that need improvements are the National Vocational Rehabilitation Centers (NVRCs) and Area Vocational Rehabilitation Centers (AVRCs) located in the National Capital Region, Regions I, VII, IX, X, and the Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop (RSW) located in Project 4, Quezon City.
DSWD also manages the Rehabilitation Sheltered Workshop, the residential care facilities also for the PWDs like the Elsie Gaches Village in Alabang and the Accelerating Minor’s Opportunity for Recovery (Amor) Village in Region III.
DSWD data showed that since January to September this year, at least 645 PWDs have been served by the department after they availed the services of NVRC, AVRCs I, II, III, Center for the Handicapped, and RSW.
On the other hand, the department’s residential care facilities have managed to serve around 777 PWDs (Elsie Gaches Village serves 653 and Amor serves 124).
Taguiwalo said DSWD likewise partnered with private corporations to further improve the skills of the PWDs for them to get jobs.
Other DSWD programs for PWDs are Tuloy Aral Walang Sagabal (TAWAG), Early Detection, Prevention, and Intervention of Disability (EDPID), Comprehensive Program for Children/Persons with Disabilities, and Substitute Family Care Service at the different residential centers in Regions I, III, VII, IX, and NCR.
On top of these, DSWD also offers livelihood training, capital assistance, and employment to PWDs through the RSW.
The Republic Act No. 10524 has amended the Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities.
According to Taguiwalo, the purpose of RA 10524 is “to increase PWDs access to employment opportunities by encouraging government and private agencies and corporations to hire more PWDs.”
She reiterated the provision in the same law that at least one percent of all positions in government agencies, offices or corporations shall be reserved for PWDs.
On the other hand, private corporations with more than 100 employees are also enjoined to reserve at least one percent of all positions for PWDs, Taguiwalo added.
Other laws promoting the welfare of PWDs are Republic Act No. 1179 series of 1954, which provides for the promotion of the vocational rehabilitation of the blind and other disabled and their return to civil employment; Republic Act No. 2615, series of 1959, which amends RA No. 1179 and provides for the establishment of the regional rehabilitation training centers and also extends the six-month period of Vocational Training for the Disabled Trainees to a period of one year.
“We should always ensure that PWDs have regular access to social protection programs. At the same time, we should respect, promote, and protect their dignity, rights, and welfare. PWDs have the same rights as others. They must be able to enjoy these on an equal basis with non-PWDs,” Taguiwalo stressed.