PWDs strongly advocate for accessibility and safety at human rights consultation
By Minerva BC Newman
Cebu City (12 October) -- The Persons with disability (PWDs) sector strongly advocates for access to safe and convenient transportation not only for land-based travel but inclusive of sea and air as well as for barrier-free tourism for all and inclusive travel policies.
Jovencio "Nonoy" Concha, a PWD himself reported the sector's output during the plenary at the 5th area consultation in Cebu City on the formulation of the 2nd National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) held on October 8-9, 2009 at the Montebello Hotel, this city.
Concha, who is also the president of an NGO here called PWDs Advocating for Rights and Empowerment (PARE) said, accessibility, safety and convenience of persons with disability, is "terribly wonting in this country even if the accessibility law has already been passed."
"Buildings, comfort rooms, transportation (buses, boats and planes) and even roads do not have accessibility features for PWDs and nobody seems to mind. Nobody has been sanction nor fined!" Concha stressed.
He himself was a victim of discrimination. He said he filed a case against a leading air transport company sometime last year for human rights violation and utter discrimination when he was made to sign a waiver that in case something happens to the plane the company is not liable for his safety. Because he refused to sign the waiver, he was not allowed to take the flight. The case is still in court.
Concha said that tourism in Thailand is booming because it is "PWD-friendly." Their buildings, hotels, and transportations have special accessibility features for special children, elderly and the PWDs.
"These are the people (elderly) that mostly enjoy tourism, they have all the time and the money!" he added.
Concha welcomed this recent area consultation because to the PWD sector, this is an opportunity to advocate for its cause.
"Our sector is the most vulnerable to human rights abuses. We have been advocating for the strict implementation of the accessibility law for more than 15 years now, but it seems our voices had also been disabled," Concha sighed.
His report also included disaster preparedness, response and rehabilitation measures for PWDs specifically access to evacuation centers, rescue and relief.
His sector hopes that separate lanes for PWDs in roads and highways will be incorporated in future infrastructure and a strong monitoring body tasked to oversee the strict implementation of the accessibility laws in the country shall be established. (PIA-7) [top]