MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations has officially declared Wednesday, December 3, “International Day of Disabled Persons,” to raise awareness about the attention and help needed by persons with disability (PWDs).
In the country, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo designated in 2006 December 3 as “International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the Philippines.” The National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (now called the National Council on Disability Affairs, or NCDA) was tasked as lead agency for all activities related to this celebration.
Republic Act 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, defined PWDs as “those suffering from restriction of different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.”
Based on the 2010 Census, there are 1,443,000 PWDs comprising 1.57% of the total population, in the country. In the 2013 elections, there were around 365,000 registered PWD voters.
What benefits are they entitled to based on legislation and government proclamations? Here’s what we found.
20% discount on:
- hotels and similar lodging establishments, restaurants and recreation centers
- theaters, cinema houses, concert halls, circuses, carnivals and other similar places of culture, leisure and amusement
- medicines in all drugstores
- medical and dental services, including diagnostic and laboratory fees, in all government facilities (subject to guidelines to be issued by DOH in coordination with PhilHealth
- medical and dental services, including diagnostic and laboratory fees, and professional fees of attending doctors in all private hospitals and medical facilities (in accordance with the rules and regulations to be issued by DOH in coordination with PhilHealth)
- domestic air and sea travel
- public railways and bus fare
- skyways and expressways toll fees (for PWD owning a vehicle)
5% discount on:
- basic necessities (rice, corn, bread, fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk, infant formulas, fresh vegetables, root crops, coffee, sugar, cooking oil, salt, laundry soap, detergents, firewood, charcoal, candles and other commodities as maybe classified by the DTI and the DA)
- prime commodities (fresh fruits, dried, processed and canned pork, beef and poultry, meat, dairy products not falling under basic necessities, noodles, onions, garlic, diapers, herbicides, poultry, swine and cattle feeds, veterinary products for poultry, swine and cattle feeds, veterinary products for poultry, swine and cattle, paper, school supplies, nipa shingle, plyboard, construction nails, batteries, electrical supplies, light bulbs, steel wire and other commodities that may be classified by DTI and DA)
NOTE: Total amount of said purchase should not exceed P1,300 per calendar week without carry over of the unused amount
- all government agencies, offices or corporations shall reserve at least 1% of all positions for PWDs
- private corporations with more than 100 employees are encouraged to reserve at least 1% of all positions for PWDs
- express lanes in all commercial and government establishments
- accessible biometrics registration and voting precincts
- designated PWD-friendly public attorneys
- educational assistance to pursue primary, secondary, tertiary, post tertiary, as well as vocational or technical education in both public and private schools
- protection against verbal and non-verbal ridicule and vilification
- P15,000 worth of benefits to qualified PhilHealth members or dependents in need of lower limb prosthesis
- establishment of a Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in every province, city and municipality
- accessible website of all government agencies
To avail of these priviledges and perks, a PWD should secure and present a PWD ID. Details on registration and application may be found here.
But despite all these perks, NCDA claims that PWDs still encounter problems such as poverty and discrimination.
Months ago, photos of a disabled person and a dog denied access to a mall became viral. The incident turned out to be a simple misunderstanding, but it raised the issue of whether private establishments are considerate of the needs of PWDs.
Moreover, in the 2013 elections – considered to be more PWD-inclusive compared to past elections – only 82,000 out of the 365,000 registered PWD voters were able to cast their votes.
Many establishments still lack ramps, functioning elevators, and necessary facilities. Also, oppportunities are lost because of lack of proper funding for PWD programs.
In a dialogue, NCDA director Carmen Reyes Zubiaga said that PWDs are “not asking the government for special treatment, but only for them to address our reasonable accommodation.” – Rappler.com
SOURCES: National Council on Disability Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Statistics Authority, previous Rappler stories
Photo of handicapped parking sign from Shutterstock
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