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LGUs urged to comply with accessibility rules for PWDs.

Davao City - Most local government units (LGUs) in the country still do not comply with the provisions on accessibility for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) as stipulated in the Accessibility Law or the Batas Pambansa 344, as mandated by RA 7277 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

This was the assessment made by Carmen Zubiaga, acting executive director of the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA).

"It's very poor", Zubiaga pointed out when asked by reporters here to rate the compliance of LGUs with regard to accessibility of PWDs in their respective buildings and other facilities.

RA 7277 provides for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of PWDs and their integration into the mainstream of society.

Among others, RA 7277 mandates a barrier-free environment that will enable PWDs to have access in public and private buildings as specified in BP 344.

The said law states that national agencies and LGUs shall allocate funds for the provision of architectural facilities or structural features for PWDs in government buildings and facilities.

"There are still government facilities in the country that are not accessible to PWDs", Zubiaga lamented adding that implementation of the provisions of accessibility law among the LGUs in the country is very low.

"Out of 1,200 local government agencies that we screened nationwide only 40 passed the criteria set for the minimum requirement for accessibility law", Zubiaga stressed.

She said that during the screening, the facilities that they checked were the ramps for rural health units and the ramps and toilets of municipal halls.

"Some have installed ramps but most of these do not comply with the right specifications as stated by the accessibility law", Zubiaga said.

As specified, ramps must be 1.20 meters in width that is enough for two wheelchairs to meet, she added.

Right now, Cebu City is considered a PWD friendly city in the country because they have adopted the barrier-free tourism as stipulated in their local ordinance that was enacted by the local legislative body, Zubiaga bared.

She said they also conducted studies on the facilities of private establishments in the country, including malls, hotels, restaurants and resorts.

Zubiaga said most of these private establishments still do not comply with the specifications in the accessibility law.

And so far, only SM Malls have fully complied with the accessibility law among private establishments, according to the NCDA official.

"We need more accessibility campaigns and come up with some strategies to encourage different sectors to comply with the provisions of the accessibility law," she told reporters here.

Zubiaga pointed out that one of the effective means of campaigning accessibility is through trainings and seminars that are packaged with tourism.

Recently, the Department of Tourism in Davao region (DOT-11) and the NCDA conducted a seminar that was aimed to promote a barrier-free and disability-inclusive tourism environment here that was joined by representatives from various LGUs and key players in the tourism industry of Davao region such as the resorts, hotels and restaurants.

Zubiaga said that the NCDA is now working hand-in-hand with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to make accessibility compliance as one of the criteria for an LGU to get the seal of good local governance.

She hoped that through the efforts with the DILG, more LGUs will turn their buildings and facilities into barrier-free and disability-inclusive.

Seal of good governance awards LGUs that exhibit excellent performance in good financial keeping; disaster preparedness; social protection; business friendliness and competitiveness; environment management; and peace and order.

NCDA was formerly called the National Council for the Welfare of Disable Persons or the NCWDP that was created by virtue of Presidential Executive Order No. 709 issued on February 26, 2008 signed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The council is mandated to formulate policies and coordinate the activities, issues and concerns of PWDs to all public and private agencies.

It is also tasked to monitor the implementation of laws that ensure the protection of PWDs that include RA 7277 (Magna Carta for Disabled Persons); the Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law); the RA 6759 (While Cane Act); and the ILO Convention No. 159 (Vocational Rehabilitation of Persons with Disability).

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Title Annotation:Provincial
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Oct 18, 2014
Words:694
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