By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City government was recognized by the 2017 Apolinario Mabini Awards Committee for the passage and implementation of ordinances that protect and strengthen the rights of persons with disabilities (PWD).
The city government was one of the recipients of the Local Government Unit of the Year award during the 29th Awarding Ceremonies of the Apolinario Mabini Awards organized by the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Inc. (PFRD).
Arnold de Guzman, head of QC Persons with Disability Affairs Office, has cited the administration of Mayor Herbert Bautista for its concern, sincerity, sensitivity and awareness on the needs and plight of the PWD community.
He noted that this is very evident with the issuance and approval of ordinances where accessible physical structures and facilities were established.
Bautista was also lauded for the implementation of inclusive programs that empower and ease the inconvenience of PWDs.
“Patunay ito na ang Quezon City ay tuloy-tuloy ang pag-provide ng serbisyo para sa PWD community (This is a testament that the Quezon City government has continuously provided service to the PWD community),” de Guzman said.
The city government has given 6,800 wheelchairs, 750 single canes, 300 quad canes, 225 walkers, and 150 crutches to indigent PWDs.
The PFRD launched the Apolinario Mabini Awards in 1974 to give recognition to individuals with disabilities, professionals and various groups that distinguished themselves in their chosen fields of endeavor or have rendered outstanding services to people with disabilities.
Earlier, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte has put up a special care facility dedicated to providing the needs of children with disabilities (CWD) in the city.
The Kabahagi Resource Center for Children with Disabilities was conceptualized and funded by the Office of the Vice Mayor with the support of the barangays and other concerned City Hall offices, national government agencies, people’s organizations, medical professionals, and the private sector.
“I feel we lack programs for children with disabilities. We seriously lack services that we should have long been providing to them, so naisip ko dapat may ganyan tayong lugar (so I thought we should have one in thee locality),” Belmonte said in an interview.
While Quezon City has enough SPED or Special Education schools, Belmonte said the city lacks free or affordable treatment and intervention programs for the marginalized sector.
Having a child with a disability, Belmonte said, can be challenging for any parent, and is doubly challenging for poor parents; CWDs, in particular, are vulnerable and face social stigma and discrimination all their lives.
“Often, disabled children from poor families never, ever go to school because they simply have no access to primary care,” Belmonte said.
Kabahagi, Belmonte stressed, aims “to improve the quality of life of CWDs through mobilization of community resources, the provision of services and the creation of equal access to health, educational, vocational, and social opportunities for the stakeholders.”
At the facility, Belmonte said intervention programs will be provided to CWDs depending on the disability.
“We have referral programs as well in case we have to transfer them to other institutions and then we’ll also have training programs for the parents – all for free.”
According to the National Statistics Office, there are 2.01 million CWDs aged 5-14 in the country as of 2010. UNICEF Philippines provides a higher estimate of five million.