Serving the under-served

THE newly organized Davao City Persons with Disability Assistance Office (PDAO) has been hard at work to ensure that they can reach out to the persons with disabilities in Davao City. First step: make sure everyone is accounted for through the issuance of identification cards.

Teogenes Comiling of the PDAO, which is still under the Davao City Social Service and Development Office, said that very few persons with disabilities (PWDs) have the PDAO IDs.

"Para ma-avail ang privileges and discount sama sa number one 20 percent discount sa tambal, kung magpalit silang devices dunay 20 percent discount ug ang ilahang pamasahe 20 percent discount (So that they can avail of the privileges and discounts, the 20 percent discount in medicines, 20 percent discount in buying of devices, and 20 percent discount in transportation fees)," Comiling said.

PWDs are even entitled to 30 percent discount in big food chains and 5 percent discount from groceries from a maximum of P1,500 grocery bill a week. All these they can have access to if they have the ID.

"Ang uban wala pay ID, ang uban PWD wala pa kabalo nga naa diay ID (Some do not have IDs and some do not know there is such ID)," he said. The PDAO would only be sought out when the PWD needs medical care.

"Pag naa na sa hospital diha pa magpa-ID. Unta beforehand asikasuhon daan (They just ask for their IDs when they are already in the hospital. They should get it beforehand)," Comiling said. So far, they have issued a total of 6,000 cards including children, when the population of PWDs in Davao City for adults alone is already 12,000.

Last July 22, the highlight of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week celebration was the issuance of more IDs where doctors were brought in to certify the specific disability the person has, still PDAO is calling out to those who are now aware.

"You won't be asked any certification if the disability is apparent. Examples of these are those who have no arms or feet. To those who had stroke and cannot come, the PWDs in the barangay level shall certify that they are indeed PWDs to avoid exploitation," Comiling said.

Apart from that Comiling said they already oriented the barangay captains on Executive Order 417 that allots 1 percent of the Internal Revenue allotment of the barangay for PWDs. In this way, the barangay will always have a fund for the needs of PWDs, especially for emergency cases.

Organizations of PWDS can also submit project proposals for training seminars, mobility, and livelihood to further enhance their economic independence, the funds of which can be tapped from the Gender and Development Fund.

So far, only five barangays have implemented this law. Also among their tasks, Comiling said, is to ensure the implementation of Presidential Decree 10524, which mandates the employment of the 1 percent PWDs in the total population of employees in government and non-government offices and the accessibility law. Accessibility alone is already a major setback because 80 percent of the government offices in the city do not have the facilities for PWD access.

"Dili lang ni siya access sa structure, access pud sa pagsakay, access sa communication labaw na sa mga deaf ug sa tanan nga PWD (This is not just about access to structure, but access to transportation, and communication especially for the hearing-impaired and all PWDs)," Comiling said.

Schools have no ramps and are not equipped with Braille books, there are very few government offices who have staff who can communicate in sign.

The City Social Services and Development Office CSSDO office is also a helping hand of the PWDs in attaining their programs.

"We work with our barangays we have social workers and one of the things that we do is organizing our differently abled persons because we believe that they are our partners in our livelihood programs" said Maria Luisa Bermudo, CSSDO Department Head.

Bermudo said they provide livelihood assistance for the families of children with autism, educational assistance and technical skills training for PWDs with their partners, the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) and Technical Education Skills Development Authority (Tesda) although at a limited scale, as yet.

She added that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is also providing support under the Bottom-up Budgeting in the shared livelihood, skills training and capacity training that includes computer repair, solar light making, food processing , agriculture, radio repair manicure and pedicure training.

The PDAO, she said, will hopefully be a full-fledged city office before the year ends as mandated under the Magna Carta for Persons with Disability.

"There are still many things for us to do not just government sectors but also private sectors and facilities to provide equal opportunities of for employment.

We also encourage private sector to hire PWDs as part of their corporate social responsibility and as a mandate of Magna Carta for PWDs," Bermudo said.

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