On Rights of Persons with Disability (PWDs)

The constitution prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, but the government did not effectively enforce these provisions. Laws, such as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, provide for equal access for persons with both physical and mental disabilities to all public buildings and establishments, but many barriers remained.

Persons with disabilities continued to face discrimination and other challenges in finding employment.

From January to June, the Department of Social Welfare provided services to 517 persons with disabilities in assisted-living centers and community-based vocational centers nationwide, significantly fewer than reported in the previous year.

Advocates for persons with disabilities contended that equal access laws were ineffective due to weak implementing regulations, insufficient funding, and inadequately focused integrative government programs. The great majority of public buildings remained inaccessible to persons with physical disabilities. Many schools had architectural barriers that made attendance difficult for persons with disabilities.

State actions to address PWD concerns have also been undertaken in 2018. President Duterte has signed into law a measure that establishes a national mental health policy to pave the way for an integrated approach and delivery of services as well as promote and protect the rights of persons with mental health issues. Republic Act 11036 also reaffirms the Philippines’ commitment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and all other relevant international and regional conventions and declarations. It also recognizes the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons under RA 7277.

The law also mandates that persons affected by mental health conditions can exercise the full range of human rights and participate fully in society and at work. It also mandates the Department of Health to ensure that responsive primary mental health services are established and integrated as part of basic health services. Local government units and academic institutions are obligated to coordinate with all concerned government agencies and the private sector for the implementation of the program.

The PWD sector has also been vocal in their demands for better accessibility of Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs). Abner Manlapaz, chief representative of the Philippine Coalition on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said that PWDs usually faced “selective service” in public transportation. The group said the currently, it is only the Point-to-Point (P2P) buses that provides convenient access to PWDs but such transport is very few. The group demanded that new standards for accessibility be imposed on buses and jeepneys. The government for its part stated that the plight of PWDs was an important consideration in the modernization efforts, particularly those that involve the city buses and public utility jeepneys.

State level support for PWDs remain inadequate. Only 60 percent of local government units have a Persons with Disability Office (PDAO), according to a study by the UP Center for Local and Regional Governance (UP CLRG) on persons with disability (PWD) inclusion in the Philippines. The low compliance of this requirement has severely impaired the implementation of the law assuring the delivery of services to PWDs. “The presence of a PDAO office in an LGU lowers the chances of PWDs having limited access to various services, such as health, employment, rehabilitation, assistive devices, education, social welfare and disaster management,” In the study, 7 LGU’s with existing PWD programs were cited for their various initiatives. These LGUs were: Carmona (Cavite), San Lorenzo Ruiz (Camarines Norte), Angeles City, Mandaluyong City, Valenzuela City, Camarines Norte, and Iloilo Province. The PDAO office in San Lorenzo Ruiz, Camarines Norte started out with a zero budget in 2016, the year when the IRR was enacted.

Affirmative action by the State vis-à-vis PWDs have also been documented. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has ordered the granting of a 20 percent fare discount to persons with disability (PWD) by all public utility vehicles (PUV) through a newly issued memorandum circular (MC). The MC 2018-004 was issued pursuant to Republic Act 10754 or An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disability.

Under the MC, PWDs can avail of the discounted fares provided they present documents such as identification card issued by the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons or duly authorized LGU officials. PWDs can also avail of the full 20 percent fare discount from Transportation Network Vehicle Services (TNVS), such as Grab and Uber and taxi service, regardless of the number of his or her companions according to the LTO.

The MC provides the slapping of a P5,000 fine for the first offense, and P10,000 for the second offense plus a six-month suspension of their Certificate of Public Convenience for violators. For the third and final offense, operators would have their franchises canceled or revoked, as stated under the MC.

President Duterte has signed the Philippine Mental Health Law, or Republic Act 11036, which aims to give better access to mental health care. The law seeks to provide mental health services down to the barangay level and integrate mental health programs in hospitals. It also seeks to improve mental health facilities and to promote mental health education in schools and workplaces.