De Lima urges LGUs to check ‘PWD-friendly’ facilities

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today urged the Senate to look into how local government units (LGUs) have complied in ensuring a “barrier-free” environment for persons with disabilities (PWDs) not only in public and private buildings but also transport facilities.

De Lima, a known human rights activist, has filed Senate Resolution 534 calling for a review of the implementation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 344, also known as the “Accessibility Law” and the Republic Act 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.

“For the sake of our countrymen with disabilities, there is need to examine the level of implementation and enforcement of B.P. 344 and to look into possible corrective legislation to ensure that it is adequately enforced,” she said.

The Philippines is a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities since 2008 and has B.P. 344 and R.A. 7277 which protect and promote the rights and welfare of PWDs so that they can enjoy same opportunities available to all.

In 2010, according to the census of the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are 16 out of 1,000 Filipinos who have a disability, or about 1.57% of the total population.

The former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, however, pointed out that most public and private buildings, transportation facilities and other establishments have not satisfactorily complied with these two laws for PWDs.

She cited the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) report that only two out of 10 LGUs all over the country have complied with the accessibility laws and the implementation of guidelines governing employment and assistance for PWDs.

She also noted reported cases where some LGUs, notably in Baguio City and Cainta, Rizal, seem to have failed to ensure that public buildings, footbridges,, staircases, and sidewalks, are made accessible to PWDs.

Citing a 2015 undergraduate thesis, De Lima was surprised to note the lack of structural features for accessibility, such as ramps, railings, proper signage, and designated parking spots in the old and new buildings even in the state-owned educational institution such as University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.

“There are other countless other illustrations of non-compliance with B.P. Blg. 344 and R.A. 7277 all over the country,” she said.

“Non-compliance by any establishment automatically deprives PWDs with opportunities to avail of essential services and ultimately participate fully in social life and development of the societies in which they live and the enjoyment of opportunities available to other citizens,” she added.

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