MAKING EVERYONE PRODUCTIVE: PWDs push for establishment of vocational rehab centers in Bicol
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- The Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) here is forging partnership with the office of Congressman Gabriel H. Bordado (3rd District, Camarines Sur) in order to expedite the establishment of a vocational rehabilitation center in his district. The center, which will cater to children who have finished attending the Department of Education’s Special Education (SPED) program, will serve as facility for young PWDs to develop their skills and enable them to land a job and live productively despite their handicaps. In this city, a similar entity, specifically called vocational training center, has already been established thru the efforts made by the administration of Mayor John G. Bongat. Close to a hundred young PWD individuals in the city have become beneficiaries of the project. The PWD leadership in Bicol headed by Ernesto Paredes as its regional president wishes to make good the plan not only in the third district of the province but in the entire Bicol Region, as well, by way of implementing Republic Act 1179, otherwise known as an Act to provide for the promotion of vocational rehabilitation of the blind and other handicapped persons and their return to civil employment. Such measure was approved on June 19, 1954. Christopher Molin, PDAO officer-in-charge, said that through the operation of the Act, the government was able to establish 4 vocational rehabilitation centers (VRCs) in the country which all remain existent up to this day. They are in the cities of Quezon, Dagupan, Cebu, and Zamboanga. “RA 1179 provides for the establishment and operationalization of vocational rehabilitation centers not only in Naga City but also in the 6 provinces of the Bicol Region such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. The measure also provides that the regional center will be situated in Naga City,” Molin said. He said the centers will help young PWD individuals to be able to acquire some skills like cooking, gardening/landscaping, or cellphone repair/electronics or laundry for them to be able to earn a living. “They [PWDs] can be hired, once they finished their training, as attendants in laundry shops, hotels, and other businesses where they can be good and dependable workers,” he said. Molin and other PWD leaders in the city are scheduled to meet with Bordado on July 29, this year, to discuss specifics and preliminaries in the establishment of a vocational training center in the city. He said his group will also request Bordado to identify some provisions in the Act that have to be amended as the measure was enacted in as early as 1954. “We will invite also Congressman Bordado to study the possibility of adopting in the Philippines some national policies for PWDs in Korea which the PWDs in the city believe will work here effectively,” he said. Two of these Korean policies are the “Employment Promotion Act for PWDs” and the “Special Act on the Preferential Purchase of Goods Produced by Persons with Severe Disabilities.” These policies demand private and public agencies to hire PWDs that will compose at least 3% of their manpower complementation for public companies and 2% for private companies. It is the vocational rehabilitation centers that supply the needs of these companies. The policy also include standard of calculation on charges per unmet employment quota which could go as high as 1,088,890 KRW/month for a company that does not hire persons with disabilities.