Leader tells fellow PWDs to be more responsible

Admitting that this would cause the ire of his fellow persons with disabilities, the new president of the Federation of PWD Associations in Iloilo City expressed that they need to be more responsible if they want to be part of the mainstream.

“We need to change our mindset,” said Mark Espesor, president of the FPWDA and also the head of the Association of Persons with Cerebral Palsy.

“We are used to blaming others and insisting that things should be this way or that way. But they should also learn to understand that the other person may be having difficulties in providing for what you want,” he said.

While there is an existing law that promotes the welfare of PWDs, Espesor said this should not be misinterpreted. “If PWDs have the right to live here, so do others, too. Let’s promote respect so we can have harmony,” he said.

“In my term as federation president, I’d like this practiced. I know this issue is critical and some PWDs may not like what I say, but I believe this is what we need. Let us have a special dialogue,” he suggested.

He said he will also push for educating PWDs of their rights. “So that they will be aware and responsible,” he said.

Under his term, Espesor said he will also focus on the registration towards legality of the federation. “I’m glad to say that we are making efforts to have leadership and empowerment trainings initiated by groups under the federation.”

Some of its members are the Association of Disabled Persons of Iloilo, Blind Union, Autistic Society of Iloilo, Association of Persons with Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Association, among others. There are 15 organizations that are active.

Espesor said he would push for having a yearly week-long activity for these groups in order to inform the public of their existence. As to where the budget will come from, Espesor he is hopeful that the city government will be very supportive.

“Our new public officials just took over, so we’ll give them time. We hope that this will already materialize by 2014. But, there should also be income-generating activities like  fun run or dinner for a cause, for example. I want the public to know that we do not want to solely rely on the government. We will also connect with the different sectors of our society,” he added.

“I mean, if we really are pushing to be part of the society’s mainstream, thus we PWDs should not just wait,” he said.

He expressed happiness that some PWD organizations are pushing for their advocacy. “That’s a sign of a good start,” he said. He is also happy that Iloilo City Councilor Love Joy Baronda is making a way to impose the law favoring PWDs, especially on special discounts.

Section 2 of Republic Act 9442 or the Magna Carta of Disabled Persons provides the PWDs are entitled to 20 discount in lodging, restaurants, recreation centers, cinemas and other places of amusement, purchase of medicines, medical and dental services and laboratory, domestic air and sea travel, bus and railways, among others.

Republic Act 7277 or an act providing for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of disabled person and their integration, states that five percent (5%) of all casual, emergency and contractual positions in the Department of Social Welfare and Development; Health; Education, Culture and Sports; and other government agencies, offices or corporations engaged in social development shall be reserved for disabled persons.
Meanwhile, RA 7277 also states that private entities that employ disabled persons who meet the required skills or qualifications, either as regular employee, apprentice or learner, shall be entitled to an additional deduction, from their gross income, equivalent to twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to disabled persons.
But Espesor admitted that PWDs have difficulty getting a job.

“The reality is, even non-PWDs have difficulty finding jobs. But I’m telling them, don’t lose faith. If there is a will, there is a way,” he said.

“So, I’m telling the PWDs this: If you have a chance to study, study well so that you will get a good job. For those looking for jobs now, believe that you will find one. And don’t make any wrongdoings that would tarnish your reputation and that of your fellow PWDs. Let’s be responsible,” he concluded.* Kathy Villalon/TNT Libre, Oct. 9, 2013


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