President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) and other government officials support the empowerment of persons with disabilities and vow to help address health and developmental needs amid and beyond this time of the pandemic.
"May the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) remain among the government's lead agencies in empowering our people to overcome personal challenges and all adversities we face as a nation," said the President during the 43rd National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week celebration on July 17-23, 2021.
The President hopes that the celebration promotes greater awareness of the importance of disability prevention and rehabilitation in the nation's progress.
With the theme "Kalusugan, Kaunlaran ng Pilipinong may Kapansanan, Isulong sa Gitna ng Pandemya,” this year’s week-long celebration centered on the government’s concerted effort to address the health and economic concerns of persons with disabilities.
Livelihood programs for persons with disabilities
Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary and Chair of the NCDA Rolando Joselito D. Bautista recognized employed persons with disabilities as persons who deliver the agency services at par with their abled counterparts.
Bautista promoted DSWD’s Residential Care Facilities for abandoned and neglected persons with disabilities, where they are given psychological, home life, recreational, and dietary needs.
While in non-Residential Care Facilities, DSWD provides livelihood training to persons with disabilities with families to acquire needed skills and empower them as they face challenges in their lives.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), on the other hand, launched the first online trade fair from July to August 2020 for 19 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) owned by persons with disabilities that generated sales of P224,080 in cash and booked orders to recover from the effects of the pandemic.
Dubbed the Biz-Ability Online Trade Fair, the event aimed to provide persons with disabilities who are business owners, the initial exposure and experience to sell their products online on large platforms.
DTI has 1,202 Negosyo Centers nationwide and an online portal making all programs within reach in assisting owners of MSMEs.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez encouraged persons with disabilities to get in touch with DTI through Hotline 1384, avail of the programs, and participate in the nation's economic recovery.
Meanwhile, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III highlighted the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced workers (TUPAD) and DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) as added programs to benefit persons with disabilities.
TUPAD is a community-based (municipality/barangay) program that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed, and unemployed poor.
Depending on the nature of work, TUPAD workers work for a minimum of 10 days but not to exceed 30 days in projects such as bamboo planting and de-clogging of canals in preparation for the rainy season.
More so, the DOLE Integrated Livelihood Program (DILP) provides grant assistance and entrepreneurial ventures for vulnerable and marginalized workers.
Health support for persons with disabilities
Local government units implement programs to support the health needs of persons with disabilities. For example, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, through Kabahagi Center for Children with Disabilities, provides affordable treatment and intervention programs for children with disabilities.
Simultaneous vaccination events of persons with disabilities in various Local Government Units (LGUS) takes place after a webinar on COVID-19 vaccines, addressing fears, misconceptions, and notions about the vaccine. This is a prelude to the proposed accommodation in the priority list for persons with disabilities in vaccination sites.
Likewise, the Department of Health provides information on access to health services through online platforms such as telemedicine and its relevance in the pandemic to reach out especially to the vulnerable sectors.
Healthy, resilient disability sector
NCDA Executive Director Engr. Emerito L. Rojas emphasized that this year's theme aligns with the Philippine government's thrusts to Reset, Rebound, and Recover.
The aim is to reduce COVID-19 transmissions and restart social and economic activities towards a healthy and resilient Philippines where no one is left behind, including persons with disabilities.
The 23 activities of this year's celebration can be accessed for free at the National Council of Disability Affairs Facebook page: @nationalcouncilondisabilityaffairs (MCG/PIA-IDPD/NCDA)