Local governments urged to prioritize programs for PWDs

Jee Y. Geronimo
July 17 marks the start of the 38th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week

PRIOTIZE. July 17 marks the start of the 38th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week. File photos from Rappler, EPA, and Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines – What’s keeping many local government units (LGUs) from developing programs for persons with disabilities (PWDs)?

For Mayor Dahlia Loyola of Carmona, Cavite, the answer is simple: PWDs are not the priority for these LGUs.

Paano maco-compel ang ating local governments today to do programs for PWDs? Kasi kung ‘di priority, ‘di talaga gagawin,” Loyola said during a recent media workshop on persons with intellectual disabilities facilitated by Probe Media Foundation.

(How do we compel our local governments today to do programs for PWDs? Because if it’s not a prioirty, they won’t do it.)

Loyola, whose municipality is a Special Award recipient during the 2015 Apolinario Mabini Awards, said LGUs should not merely establish a PWDs affairs office, but should also make sure this office is functional.

Mandato natin ‘to e, executive order na hindi lamang bahagi ang [affairs] office of PWDs ng [Department of Social Welfare and Development], kung hindi separate office,” she added, referring to Executive Order 437.

(This is our mandate, it’s an executive order that the affairs office of PWDs is not only part of DSWD, but should be a separate office.)

The 2005 order encouraged LGUs to adopt the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) program for PWDs, and to allocate funds that will support the program.

The same order said the responsibility of implementing the program should fall under a designated unit within the office of the local executive.

July 17 marks the start of the 38th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week, a celebration held every 3rd week of July pursuant to Proclamation 361.

The week culminates every July 23, or the birth date of Philippine hero known as “The Sublime Paralytic,” Apolinario Mabini.

Role of national government 

Citing the 2010 Census of Population and Housing, Rizalio Sanchez of the National Council on Disability Affairs said 1.4 million out of the country’s 92.1 million household population had disability.

Calabarzon recorded the highest number of PWDs (193,000), followed by Metro Manila (167,000), while the Cordillera Administrative Region, meanwhile, recorded the lowest number of PWDs at 26,000. 

Carmona’s initiatives for PWDs also include the Center-Based Education Program, in which the PWDs affairs office identify and locate children with special needs.

These children will be evaluated and diagnosed by developmental pediatricians and doctors, after which they will be referred to one of the programs that suit their needs:

  • Early intervention
  • SPED tutorials
  • Normalization
  • Bridging Programs
  • Adaptive Skills Program
  • Entrepreneurial Programs

Carmona has allocated a yearly budget of around P1.5 million to “continuously upgrade the facilities and services” for PWDs in the municipality.

Loyola said 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-class municipalities have more than enough income to fund programs for PWDs. As for 4th-, 5th-, and 6th class municipalities, she urged the national government to come in and help out these LGUs. 

After sharing their experience in Carmona, the mayor lamented: “Ang kinalulungkot ko lang, bakit ‘di ma-replicate, ‘di ma-cascade sa ibang government units? Dahil ayaw po siguro nilang gawin.”

(What saddens me is this: Why can’t this be replicated or cascaded to other government units? Maybe because they don’t want to do it.)

Sana po ma-touch local government officials na sa paglilingkod, walang maiiwan (I hope we touch local government offices to realize that in service, no one should be left behind) – inclusion where nobody is left behind.”

Carmona also won the Apolinario Mabini National Award-Local Government Unit of the Year in 2008. Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.