Lito Cinco

Boost for PWDs

May 20, 2024 Lito Cinco 305 views

THE first time I have been to Malacanang was in the early 90’s together with many foreign student-classmates at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

I was still in the corporate world as Operations Manager of the Victoria Court Group and its owner, the late Archie King , sponsored my Management Development Program studies there.

Last Friday, only for the second time in my life, I set foot again inside the Malacañang grounds, this time as a participant in a goverment inter-agency meeting and workshop organized by the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat to work on the drafting of the Philippine Human Rights Plan with focus on the current administration’s program on improving further the plight of Persons With Disabilities or PWDs.

I pinched hit for the offIce of Philippine Sports Commission( PSC) Commissioner Wawit Torres, who was in Palawan. I have been working with the office of Comm. Fritz Gaston in the PSC since mid last year by the way.

Anyway, it was good to see and hear so many government agencies involved in this endeavor that will take years to complete, if ever it can be completed as new concerns for PWD’s will continue to emerge.

Though listening to the presentation and the proposed plans, sometines it felt there were too many things to address, with too little time, and with too limited sources of funds.

But then there have been progress in a lot of areas, but still a lot of things that need to be done.

What I shared with the group is what I have seen, heard, and experienced in the local world of sports, having been in this world for more than for decades and counting.

The fact that the PSC is focused on para athletes and not in general is an advantage, otherwise, the issues to be addressed for all categories of PWD’s like children, seniors, women, will simply overwhelming.

And I told the group that it in sports where PWDs have certainly made big strides and clear progress has been made to show how our para athletes have evolved in recent years.

Good that there have been laws enacted, principally Repubplic Act 7277 known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and amendments too, plus local ordinances at the LGU level that have also worked in favor of PWD’s in general.

But then I am talking of sports so I will stick to this particular group, and I shared with the audience in Mabini Hall in Malacañang that day that there are now a lot more para athletes who have emerged, the number of our para athletes to the ASEAN and the Asian ParaGames has been increasing ever year with more and more medals being won by them.

They now get monthly allowances and are able to train regularly, training and competition uniforms are provided too, plus other benefits given to regular athletes.

Just to give you an idea of other benefits under this Magna Carta, , para athletes also enjoy 20 percent discount in restaurants, hotels, airlines, parks, medicines, sports equipments, even cinemas, free medical and dental consultations in government hispitals, PHILHEALTH coverage, priority in national housing and livelihood programs, use of living quarters and training centers maintained by the PSC, scholarship, retirement, and death benefits.

But the biggest is in the form of incentives when they win in the SEA Games, Asian Games, and the Paralympics, facts is, in recent years, some para athletes have been qualifying for the Paralympics, including the forthcoming one in Paris.

This has been most appreciated by para athletes as they have been able to improve their quality of living.

But since they only receive half of what regular athletes get in terms of cash incentives, the next step would be to increase these incentives, something that our legislators can look at.

Last year, I conducted a media relations training for para athletes to enable them to deal with media people , initiated by Comm. Wawit, and this year, he also worked on a financial literacy seminarfor both regular and para athletes.

But for me, the biggest change I have seen in para athletes is the change in their attitudes, the self confidence, the self esteem, the enthusiasm, and less of being insecure about their condition.

This I have experienced personally in my inter action with them in the past and that is what I like best.

I also made a suggestion that perhaps, both the private sector and the government side can identify job positions where PWDs can fit, offhand , I can think of IT, Administration, Accounting, Finance, and HR, then set a timeline that in a few years’ time, a small percentage of said positions be filled up by PWDs.

I take pride in the fact that my previous employer Victoria Court Group already adopted this program in the 90s where we hired around 10 PWD’s I think and assigned them in several departments within the company.

Maybe that is also possible for PSC to consider for its hiring, who knows?