First National PWD Summit calls for reforms of sector

Hosting the first ever Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) Summit the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) aims to provide a more responsive and comprehensive service. The input and results of the discussions will be collated and synthesized, and eventually submitted as part of the DSWD's partial recommendation for the Philippine Development Plan for 2018-2022. DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo said that the sector of PWDs is one of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors in the country. "The Department has programs and services which are available to them, but PWDs must also be given the opportunity to voice out what they think can help them best." "Pres. Rodrigo Duterte's agenda of change gives priority to efforts to protect and uphold the welfare of the poor. We want to ensure that in the creation of the government's development program, the calls and demands of the most vulnerable sectors of Philippine society are not neglected. Theirs are the demands that the government should listen to; the reforms they want should be given emphasis and given importance and full consideration," she said. Being the lead agency in social protection, DSWD implements various community and center-based programs and services which are available to PWDs. For one, the department manages the Elsie Gaches Village, a residential- based facility that provides care and rehabilitation to abandoned and neglected children with special needs such as those with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, visual and hearing impairment, mental retardation, autism and other related illnesses. In addition to the center and community -based services, the Department also provides capacity building activities to Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), People's Organizations and other stakeholders. Through capacitating these stakeholders, the DSWD aims to replicate its mandate and increase the number of institutions that are able to respond to the special concerns of the PWDs. Sec. Taguiwalo said, "It is important that we identify the gaps in the provision of social protection services from the perspective of the PWDs themselves. As part of our genuine 'malasakit at tunay na serbisyo (compassion and genuine public service),' we, in government, must come up with a comprehensive program which will answer to the overall need in development of this vulnerable sector. Stop gap measures or crisis assistance must just be part of the response." She added, "It is important that we do not just give them services which help them get by daily. Our goal is to capacitate them build better lives for themselves and become productive citizens of society." The summit was participated in by more than 350 PWDs nationwide.

Source: Philippine Information Agency