IN THE bid to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs), Negros Occidental Fifth District Representative Ma. Lourdes Arroyo filed on Wednesday, July 17, a bill that aims to institutionalize PWD-friendly transportation program.
House Bill No. 2224 or the “PWD-friendly and Safe Transportation Act” authored by Arroyo is aimed at addressing the concerns and rights of PWDs as commuters.
Under the proposed measure, all public utility vehicle (PUV) operators and owners are mandated to upgrade their PUVs by providing passenger boarding ramps or lifts, spaces for wheelchairs and other safety accessories such as seatbelts, clamps, and grab bars to provide safety and comfort for PWD commuters.
Arroyo said despite the current efforts of the government, there is still an urgent need for programs to cater the special needs of PWDs not only in Metro Manila but in other areas as well.
“It’s a good thing that we now have point-to-point (P2P) buses that are PWD friendly, but there is still no improvement for other PUVs,” Arroyo said.
In fact, even if there are designated seats for PWDs, they can’t even fit some of the things they use for mobility like wheelchairs inside the PUVs making their rides uncomfortable, she added.
The bill also requires the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to designate a certain portion of roadway or highway as pick-up points for PWDs.
“It is a source of concern and a strain on PWDs when they commute, especially during rush hour. They end up having to compete with other passengers just to get proper and safe seating,” the Negrense legislator said.
She added that some drivers do not even want to pick up PWDs since it takes a lot of time for them to get inside the vehicle.
Arroyo said assigning designated pick-up points would address the concern. Designated pick-up points for PWDs can bring them convenience and safety.
The first-termer congresswoman also said that while modernizing the transportation system is vital in nation building, it is also an opportunity to promote the rights of PWDs for hassle-free commuting.
“We should continue to look for ways on how we can make commuting easier for PWDs,” Arroyo said.
When deny them of proper and PWD-friendly transportation system, their rights to getting education and jobs as well as safety and convenience when traveling are taken away, she said.
The bill also stated that failure to comply with the terms will be punishable with a fine of at least P200,000 to P500,000.
If passed, it will help 1.4 million PWDs across the country based on the 2010 Population Census of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
During the opening of the 18th Congress, Arroyo filed five bills including that for the creation of dialysis wards that will provide free dialysis treatment for End Stage Renal Disease patients.
Three of the remaining bills address the needs of senior citizens and PWDs, while the other bill focuses on mechanisms for the progress of fifth district constituents.
“The issues concerning PWDs are really close to my heart since I know the challenges faced by PWDs,” she said, assuring that she will continue to push for programs that can help improve their daily lives.