Monday, August 8, 2016

Bohol establishments slowly
becoming PWD barrier-free

TAGBILARAN CITY, August 5 (PIA)--Little by little every day. 

This sums up the pronouncement of a key official of the local federation of disabled persons when asked about their assessment of how Bohol has implemented the national vision for enhanced accessibility for the differently-abled, in public areas. 

At the Kapihan sa PIA specifically allotted to drumbeat the advocacies for the National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week (NDPRW) July 17-23, Bohol Federation of Disabled Persons Incorporated (BFDPI) president Mateo Quilas said Bohol has slowly become increasingly compliant. 

By compliance, Quilas means the accessibility law.

Accessibility Law or Batas Pambansa Blg 344 mandates enhancement of mobility of disabled persons. 

One way of this is by requiring certain buildings, institutions and establishments as well as public utilities to install facilities and other devices to facilitate access for disabled persons on canes, wheel-chairs and walkers. 

The law applies to public and private buildings and related structures designed for public use, streets, highways and public utilities including passenger buses and jeepneys, passenger trains, including public trains, domestic inter-island vessels and sea carriers, aircraft and public telephone booths. 

And while there is a provision that no law would be passed with retroactive effect, authorities make sure no permit for the construction, repair or renovation of public and private buildings and related structures for public use is granted or issued, unless the owner shall have provided in the specifications for approval, barrier-free facilities and accessibility features. 

The rules said, owners must make their establishments accessible to disabled personalities especially where the primary function is served and where facilities’ entrance and exits are. 

Government resorts, pensions and overnight accommodations shall apportion 10% of their total number of rooms as accessible units fully usable by the disabled persons, with entrance and exits accessible to the street and accessible slots in parking areas close to entrances and exits. 

This means sloped access ramps with grab bars, restrooms with spaces enough to accommodate a wheelchair. 

Quilas notes that Bohol Capitol, Pilar Municipal Hall, Island City Mall, Bohol Tropics Resort and some small establishments in Panglao have passed accessibility test, but not all have complied yet. 

Recently, along thie same advocacy, Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto has issued an executive order setting up the provincial accessibility monitoring team and then followed it up with EO, No. 12 series of 2016 providing additional membership to the created provincial accessibility monitoring team to check into the advancement of accessibility law.

The Provincial Accessibility Monitoring Team sets up and checks standards of accessibility or infrastructure, conducts periuodic evaluation and assessment as well as recommends for more accessible facilities, advises owners on standards of accessibility and sets up regular accessibiloity audits on public infrastructures.

According to the EO, now comprising the Bohol Accessibility Monitoring team aside from the governor are Socio-Economic and Environment Management Cluster coordinator, Provincial Social Welfare Officer, DILG Provincial Director, Provincial Engineer, City Planning and Development Officer, City Engineer, DPWH District engineers 1, 2 and 3, BFPD president and information center manager of the PIA. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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