LGU Tagum gives voice to its PWD constituents through the creation of Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office
Words By Roy Banias
Stories about lost opportunities are somewhat familiar to hear among differently-abled personalities. Most of these stories are about how they were deprived from the bright chances that they can use to improve their lives and well-being, as it should be for them. However, these stories are no more to be heard in the City of Tagum as the local government took a remarkable move to empower them, giving them the chance to rewrite their stories, either individually or collectively. This time, the theme is Tagumpay.
The City Government of Tagum made a bold step in empowering its PWD constituents by creating the Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office (PDAO) through the City Ordinance No. 737 that was passed early in 2016.
The PDAO is a special agency directed to formulate and implement policies, plans, and programs that promote the welfare of the PWDs in the city, as provided in R.A No. 7277, otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons.
Despite being the youngest among all offices in the Local Government of Tagum, PDAO has already positioned itself in the utmost delivery of public service. Mayor Allan Rellon, who is vocal about his support to the PWD community had allocated enough budget for the operation of PDAO – a crucial step in making the PWDs a part of the business of governance.
Leading the list of PDAO’s projects is the Disaggregated Data Profiling in all 23 barangays of Tagum City to account the total number of PWDs here and classify them according to their sector: communication, ortho, learning, visual, psycho-social and intellectual disabilities; thereby establishing a clear basis for the implementation of programs and activities that best suit their specific needs.
For 2017, PDAO had already lined up series of activities such as skills trainings, sensitivity seminars, Paralympics, and an extensive training in making project proposals for PWD officers. Aside from livelihood assistance, PDAO also trailblazed the creation of associations in every PWD sector so that members can devise projects that go well with them and that they can take full advantage of, which will be implemented by PDAO, itself, with funding assistance from the city government.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office, as headed by Ms. Nora Lupiba, also allocates ample budget for persons with disabilities as part of their pursuit for an inclusive development. Including in their services is the bestowment of free wheelchairs, crutches and canes to PWDs and the scheduling of strings of capability-building seminars all year round.
The creation of PDAO is just one of the gifts bestowed to the PWD community in 2016. It can be recalled that the local government also enacted an ordinance last year requiring all movie houses in Tagum to grant PWDs with free access to their cinema outlets every Thursday.
PDAO Officer Loreto Sasam, meanwhile, sees the creation of the affairs office a strong start in amplifying the voice of PWDs. Even if it is still on its onset, Mr. Sasam believes that the PDAO has already made an impact to the lives of the differently-abled Tagumenyos.
He expressed that to have a public office that represents them in the mainstream society is already a success for persons with disabilities. Indeed, another story of Tagumpay.