PH still far from becoming PWD-inclusive, says UP study

Angelica Yang
PH still far from becoming PWD-inclusive, says UP study
Only 60% of local government units have a Persons with Disability Office (PDAO), says a study by the UP-CLRG

MANILA, Philippines – Only 60 percent of local government units have a Persons with Disability Office (PDAO), according to a study by the UP Center for Local and Regional Governance (UP CLRG) on persons with disability (PWD) inclusion in the Philippines.

The low compliance of this requirement has severely impaired the implmementation of the law assuring the delivery of services to PWDs.

“The presence of a PDAO office [in a local government unit] lowers the chances of PWDs having limited access to various services, such as health, employment, rehabilitation, assistive devices, education, social welfare and disaster management,” said Dr. Erwin Alampay, an associate professor of public administration from the University of the Philippines National College for Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG) in a press conference on Tuesday, June 19.

Alampay also said that the presence of a PDAO in each LGU would help push for change in the sector, end poverty, ensure inclusive quality education, and promote sustainable, economic growth.

However, he said: “Only 6 out of 10″ LGUs had a PDAO. This means “(T)here are 33 provinces, 25 cities and 282 municipalities with no PDAOs,” said Dr. Erwin Alampay.

The implementing rules of RA 10070 enacted in 2010 mandated the creation PDAOs and the designation of PWD Affairs Offices or focal persons.

Alampay, project head of the study on PWDs, and his team presented their findings to various stakeholders and government representatives at Sequoia Hotel in Quezon City.

The study included a literature review, a roundtable discussion, an awareness survey for local government officials, 7 LGU case studies and key informant interviews.

‘Most vulnerable’

“We have to educate our local governments, because the PWDs are the most vulnerable to poverty and lack of access to basic needs. This is connected to the idea of why we want to establish PDAOs in all LGU’s. This is why we’re pushing for PWD representation,” Alampay explained.

In the study, 7 LGU’s with existing PWD programs were cited for their various initiatives. These LGUs were: Carmona (Cavite), San Lorenzo Ruiz (Camarines Norte), Angeles City, Mandaluyong City, Valenzuela City, Camarines Norte, and Iloilo Province.

The PDAO office in San Lorenzo Ruiz, Camarines Norte started out with a zero budget in 2016, the year when the IRR was enacted.

But according to Raphael Montes, the researcher for the San Lorenzo Ruiz PDAO, this financial limitation lasted for a short while. Soon, funds for the PDAO were brought back when the PDAO was given half of the funds allocated for the Office for Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA).

“This was a minor setback, but the PDAO office in San Lorenzo Ruiz was able to come up with several projects such as the retrofitting of ramps, assisted devices and customizations, an ongoing registration for PWDs and livelihood trainings,” Montes reported.

Funds are very important in maintaining PDAO operations, according to Montes. “Since it is an unfunded mandate, it will always be governed by the mantra for local governments. It will always be subject to the availability of funds,” Montes said, quoting an interviewee’s statement.

In Iloilo province, the residents are still waiting for the actual establishment and operation of the PDAO, according to researcher Celenia Jamig.

Though even without a PDAO, Iloilo City was able to spearhead PWD-friendly efforts, with the help of a focal person under the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Services Office (PSWDO).

Some of the programs provided for Iloilo City PWD’s include the distribution of wheelchairs, data banking, employment matching, online registration of PWD’s and search for the best PWD-friendly city, according to Jamig.

In a recent press release of CLRG, it was said that Iloilo is planning to set up a PDAO in line with the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) indicators.

“However, the structure is planned to be under the SWDO. It will not be a department, division or section under the office of the local chief executive as the law requires,” the press release said.

‘More representation’

Alampay and his team’s study came up with the following recommendations:

  • Strengthen the monitoring of PDAO implementation and incentivize compliance to the RA
  • Standardize data reporting of PWD information that can be linked to a national PWD registry
  • PWD representation/participation in LGU’s must be clearly established 

“The enactment of an ordinance is not equivalent to its implementation,” Alampay said, during the synthesis of the study.

For him, the forms of the government’s non-compliance with the RA 10070 and RA 10070 IRR are the following: the concurrent assignment as a focal person, the non-designation of the PDAO under the local chief executive as mandated by the law, and the non-observance of the general assembly requirement.

“There is a need to manage the transition from the PDAO as a part of the SWDO, to its own department,” Alampay said.

He also raised the point that becoming a concurrent PDAO head is not recommended, as it would require the PDAO head to oversee other tasks and projects. Being a concurrent head of a department means that one would be spearheading two or more projects at the same time.

According to Alampay and his team, a few challenges that would come with institutionalizing the PDAO would be the creation and filling up of personnel in PDAO units, management structure, budget and a dedicated space for PDAO operations.

“Overall, there is a low awareness of the RA 10070 among local legislators. Everyone must recognize that PWD interests must be heard,” Alampay said, recognizing the need for more PWD representation and awareness on the local government level.

Alampay and his team’s study was funded by the Coalitions for Change program of the Australian Embassy and the Asia Foundation.

The study will be released for viewing for stakeholders and government officials, but it won’t be released yet to the public, according to Elyzabeth Cureg, a research coordinator from the UP CLRG. 

For more information about the study, you may contact Dr. Erwin Alampay at eaalampay@up.edu.ph. – Rappler.com 

Angelica Y. Yang studies B.A. Journalism at the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is a Rappler intern.

*Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story, the PDAO researcher mentioned in the story was Prejean Prieto.

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