Only 20% of firms in Davao complied with accessibility law

PERSONS with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) in Davao City said only 20 percent of all government and non-government firms complied with the Accessibility Ordinance of the City Council, which mandates the creation of barrier-free physical environment for the disabled persons.

PDAO-Davao president Bong Comiling, during Kapehan sa Dabaw media forum at SM City Davao-Annex on Monday, July 17, said this was based on a survey conducted in May by the personnel of the National Council on Disability Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-Davao, and Department of Public Works and Highways-Davao.

Comiling said 60 percent of the 80 percent establishments that did not comply were government-owned.

Davao City, Comiling said, has an estimated 12,000 persons with disabilities (PWDs) registered under PDAO, of which, 80,000 are unregistered. Thus, he said that it should invoke establishments, especially government-owned, to provide equal access for them.

Comiling said only DSWD-Davao, among other government agencies, passed the Accessibility Law for PWDs in the city as it has parking spaces exclusively reserved for them with functioning PWD express lanes.\

The DSWD-Davao, he added, is also the only government agency that has a voice-over activated elevator, aimed to help the blind PWDs safely reach their desired floor.

"They also surveyed hotels and inns in the city and found out that almost 90 percent do not prioritize the accessibility of our PWDs," Comiling said.

Most of the establishments, he said, do not also have wheelchair ramps making it difficult for those who cannot walk to have an access inside the establishments.

Councilor Victorio Advincula, Comiling said, passed an ordinance on disallowing passengers to sit in the front seats unless they are PWDs. He said PDAO supports and is grateful for the initiative.

"We in the PWD sector hope that we could be seen as a normal citizen of this country without mockery and isolation. I urge my fellow PWDs to fight for our rights and educate others that we have our rights," Comiling said.