There’s more to Baguio than just being a tourist’s haven.
It’s also the spot for persons with disabilities (PWDs) who want some respite from the Manila heat. The Federation of Persons with Disabilities of the Baguio–Benguet chapter has pushed for the establishment of a law-mandated affairs office for PWDs in December 12 of last year, as anchored on the Republic Act 10070.
Ten days before that, there had been a public hearing to inform the PWDs in the city of the three proposed measures pertaining to them. The annual celebration of the International Day of the People with Disabilities worldwide should be localized, suggested Councilor Isabelo Cosalan, chair of the Council Committee on Employment, Cooperatives and Persons with Disabilities. There should be an affairs office for them that would be funded by the City Health Department as well as a committee that would oversee, advised Councilor Joel Alangsab. A free movie once a week must also be granted to the city’s PWD residents, recommended Vice Mayor Edison Bilog.
PWDs in Baguio City also underwent livelihood training through the Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP). Among of the 67 participants were Michael Pascua of Bokawkan Road who survived an accident in 2011, and his wife Michelle who are blessed with four children.
The Rehabilitation, Skills Training and Livelihood Promotion for Persons with Disability was proposed to be funded by the GPBP with a local counterpart of P230,769.23 and P769,230.77 from the DSWD. It is being implemented under the department’s “Sustainable Livelihood Program,” a community-based program that aims to improve the socio-economic capacity of the poor by providing them with entrepreneurial and technical skills training.
But there’s no definite population figure of PWDs in Baguio. The city social welfare and development office (CSWADO) counted 1,654 PWDs in the city as of May 2014 while the Department of Social Welfare and Development listed 1,375 PWDs in December of the same year. Councilor Cosolan had to propose an accurate population figure to the City Social Welfare and Development Officer, City Health Services Officer and the City Schools Superintendent-Department of Education last June 10, 2014 “for legislative support, planning and program implementation purposes.”
Having a disability affairs committee was also already ordered by Vice Mayor Edison Bilog when he was the acting mayor of the city last August 3, 2014. The free movie viewing is open only to PWDs’ who are registered and holders of Baguio City PWD ID Card once a week—on either the first or second screening during Wednesday or Thursday only.
I must admit, though, that the proposal of Councilor Cosalan is a good step. The measure intends to create a committee that would be the one “to formulate, implement and monitor the various activities comprising the observance and in accordance with the current international theme for the particular year, as well as local programs and projects for PWDs.’” It could lead to awareness, long-winded as it may.
“…disabled persons are “part of the Philippine Society, thus the state shall give full support to the improvement of the total well-being of disabled persons and their integration into the mainstream of society.” ~ RA 7277