Rep Wes Gatchalian apologizes for car blocking PWD ramp

Bonz Magsambol

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Rep Wes Gatchalian apologizes for car blocking PWD ramp
Valenzuela 1st District Representative Wes Gatchalian issues a public apology but some netizens say he should do more

MANILA, Philippines –“You’re sorry because you were caught?”

This was the sentiment of some netizens over the public apology of Valenzuela City 1st District Representative Wes Gatchalian, days after he was called out on social media for using the parking slot reserved for persons with disabilities (PWD) in a restaurant in Quezon City last week.

On Friday, October 5, Arlene Escalante posted the photo of Gatchalian’s parked vehicle which blocked a PWD access ramp.  In her Facebook post, Escalante said: “Mga katropa, the who po kaya itong pasaway na congressman na hinarangan pa daanan ng PWD (Friends, who is this arrogant congressman who blocked the PWD ramp)??!”

As of posting, the photo had been shared 1,195 times and drew 508 reactions.

Gatchalian apologizes

Gatchalian issued a public apology on Monday, October 8, saying that he had taken appropriate actions to ensure that it would not be repeated. He said that he has suspended his staffmember involved in the incident. 

“While it was not me who was driving the vehicle, I believe that it was my duty to ensure that my staff constantly acts in a manner that respects and is conscious of the rights of every person. No less should be expected of my office,” Gatchalian said.

For netizen, Napoleon Co, Gatchalian’s apology was not enough, and that the lawmaker should pay a fine.

Meanwhile, for some netizens, Gatchalian got away with the incident because he was a lawmaker.

For netizen Lito Escolano, though the signage itself was self explanatory, people should respect the rights of PWDs. He also commended Gatchalians for issuing a public apology. (READ: FAST FACTS: What persons with disability are entitled to)

PH far from becoming ‘PWD-inclusive’

The study of the UP Center for Local and Regional Governance (UP CLRG) showed that the Philippines was still far from becoming PWD-inclusive.

According to the study, only 60% of local government units (LGUs)  in the Philippines have Persons with Disability Offices (PDAO). The absence of PDAOs in local governments has impaired the implementation of Republic Act 10754 or the Magna Carta for PWDs.   

In a news conference in June, UP Professor Erwin Alampay  said the presence of a PDAO office [in a local government unit] would “lower the chances of PWDs having limited access to various services, such as health, employment, rehabilitation, assistive devices, education, social welfare and disaster management.” (READ: PH still far from becoming PWD-inclusive, says UP study)

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.

What are your thoughts about the issue? How do you think the government can improve in raising awareness about the use of ramps in making cities PWD-inclusive? –

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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.