NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.
First District Representative Edgar Chatto backed the approval by the Congress Special Committee on Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) for the creation of a National Commission on Disability Affairs.
Chatto presided the initial deliberations on House Bill 6317 – Creating the National Commission on the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, defining its powers, functions, and responsibilities and appropriating funds therefore principally authored by Rep. Florida ‘Rida’ Robes and House Bills 6962 and 9413 – Reorganizing the National Council on Disability Affairs into the National Commission on Disability Affairs, defining its powers and functions, appropriating funds therefor proposed by Committee chair Rep. Ma. Lourdes Arroyo and Rep. Manuel Zubiri, respectively.
According to Arroyo, the National Commission on PWD will address lapses of implementation in laws on PWDs, the lack of existing registry for PWDs, weaknesses in the implementation of the Accessibility law and the Magna Carta for PWDs.
It also ensures education and financial support for PWDs most especially amid the pandemic and takes into consideration the mental health concerns of the sector that has been severely affected by the global health crisis.
The 12th regular meeting of the Special Committee on PWDs was attended by representatives of the National Council of Disability Affairs, National Anti-Poverty Commission, PWD Affairs Office of Quezon City, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philhealth, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and Non-Government Organizations of the PWD sector.
The commission is seen to strengthen the powers and functions of the current National Council on Disability Affairs as it emphasizes the greater response to the needs of PWDs.
NCDA Executive Director Emer Rojas expressed support for the bill to empower and uplift the lives of PWDs through a more responsive strategy to manage the sector better.
Rojas says there are currently 480,ooo PWDs in the existing registry.
PWDs will have more opportunities for employment, livelihood support, and mainstreaming in the society with a stable and wider organization through the creation of a commission, he said.
The committee will schedule a meeting for a Technical Working Group to consolidate the salient points of the proposed bills.
Chatto, who is vice-chair of the PWD Committee on Congress, had authored last year House Bill No. 5896, approved by the Committee, which seeks to apply and mainstream Universal Design principles, standards, and policies to ensure and enhance the dignity, independence, mobility, safety, and convenience of persons with apparent or non-apparent disabilities (PWDs).