THE construction of the Davao City Special Needs Intervention Center for Children, initially targeted to rise in 2021, might be delayed due to the current coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

The 19th City Council passed in February this year an ordinance for the creation of the center, entirely dedicated to children with special needs in the city. The center aims to provide free intervention and special education for them.

The ordinance was fully enacted by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in April this year.

However, according to Councilor Antoinette Principe-Castrodes, the construction phase of the center might not hit its target opening due to Covid-19.

The councilor said she immediately met with the mayor weeks after the ordinance was enacted by the local council to discuss the timeframe for its implementation, which is slated in 2021.

"However, Covid-19 happened. So medyo naa gyuy delays (Expected there will be delays)," Principe-Castrodes said on Thursday, August 6.

But she said the budget for its construction, worth P41 million, is still intact.

"Rest assured the budget nga gi-earmark na for the building, naa gyud na since naka-budget na siya (Rest assured that the budget for its building is still intact)," the councilor said, adding the funding is already included in the 2020 Annual Development Fund.

Principe-Castrodes said the sight of the center will be located at the back of the People's Park.

She added the City Government is now already inspecting the blueprint of the building's design, to ensure that the facility will be safe for the children with special needs.

Principe-Castrodes, who is pushing for the approval of the ordinance, said the City Government has the policy to assist children with special needs even with the Covid-19 delaying its implementation.

"It is the policy of the City Government of Davao to pursue the right of all citizens to (give) quality education and services and take appropriate steps to make education accessible to all and offer quality interventions for the children with developmental delays and behavioral concerns," she said.

Presidential Decree 603, or the Child and Youth Welfare Code, provides that emotionally disturbed or socially maladjusted children shall be treated with sympathy and understanding and shall be entitled to treatment and competent care and that the physically or mentally handicapped child shall be given the treatment, education, and care.

Principe-Castrodes said the center will cater to children and youth with intellectual disability, global developmental delay, communication disorders, autism spectrum disorder, motor disorder, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

The councilor, in a previous interview, said the idea for a special care center was inspired during a benchmarking activity she attended in Valenzuela City, along with City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) head Maria Luisa Bermudo.

She said Valenzuela City pushed for the creation of the center through an ordinance, which paved way for its construction in 2016 and was able to operate in 2017.