The annual observance of the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week starts today (July 17) as mandated by Proclamation No. 1870 issued in June 22, 1979, as amended, aimed primarily to pay tribute to millions of Filipinos with disabilities nationwide by recognizing their valuable contributions in nation-building. Furthermore, it intends to stimulate public awareness on disability issues and concerns, such as the prevention of the causes of disability, rehabilitation of persons with disabilities and their full integration into the mainstream of society. This occasion serves as fitting reminder to every citizen of this country that persons with disabilities are no longer object of pity and should not be treated as charity cases but be given equal rights before the law of men pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and Republic Act No. 7277 also known as the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities. On this account, they should be afforded their inherent dignity and worth and the equal and inalienable rights as members of the human family.
Now on its 32nd year, the celebration this year anchors on the theme “Sa Istrukturang Accessible, Lahat ay Able” to promote mobility of persons with disabilities in a barrier-free and inclusive environment, including their accessibility to basic services. Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 better known as the Accessibility Law is highlighted in order for the key stakeholders to ensure its implementation for a non-handicapping and disabled-friendly environment for persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life on an equal basis with others. It is appropriate under this condition that buildings for public use, roads, schools, plazas, medical facilities and workplaces, bus terminals, sea and airports, including housing facilities should be made accessible to persons with disabilities. All these features should be provided with the universal access symbol for easy identification of accessible facilities and for quick understanding of the general public and those who would benefit from these amenities. To highlight the celebration, a “Forum on Accessibility Law and Universal Concept” to be held on July 21, 2010, 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. at the Occupational Safety and Health Center, North Avenue, Quezon City will be conducted by the DPWH which shall be attended by local building officials, architects, engineers, building contractors and persons with disabilities who are the prime beneficiaries. Best practices as well as issues and problems in the implementation of the law shall be tackled during the Forum.
Through the years, the National Council on Disability Affairs whose forerunner – the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons, has been on top of pursuing various disability-related programs as mandated by its charter through coordination with various government agencies and non-government organizations working for persons with disabilities to uplift their conditions. It is with urgent necessity and reaffirmation that all these entities and instrumentalities be more concerned at their levels to guarantee full enjoyment without discrimination of all persons with disabilities nationwide. This weeklong celebration henceforth will be the lifetime battle cry of all persons with disabilities including their families of advocates as well as to make the environment of our country a barrier-free society for all.