Monday, February 13, 2017

Team wants mandatory access
compliance thru SP ordinance 

TAGBILARAN CITY, February 8 (PIA)--The provincial team tasked to implement the persons-with-disability (PWD) accessibility provisions according to law is set to ask the Provincial Sanggunian to move towards an ordinance that would demand mandatory accessibility compliance in all government buildings and structures. 

The Provincial Accessibility Monitoring Team (PAMT), in two successive meetings exhaustively discussed ways towards exacting a full implementation of internationally accepted accessibility features, at least in government buildings and facilities, while looking forward to declaring Bohol as barrier free for PWDs. 

PAMT member and architect Ronald Jose Malanog has earlier stressed that a legislation could make the implementation of the international standards for accessibility of buildings by PWDs mandatory for Bohol. 

The accessibility law, which the ordinance addresses would be for public buildings and private buildings intended for public use.

When the law, Batas Pambansa 344 specifically guides builders on the applicable policies, buildings prior to 1983 would be given time to put up accessibility features or be treated accessibility non-compliant.

With the proliferation of government constructions at the onset of funds from Bohol Earthquake Assistance (BEA), the team sees the perfect opportunity for starting right. 

Bohol towns are now in the flurry of building, rebuilding, restoring and refurbishing government facilities and establishments that these new institutions should already be accessible by persons with debilities: blind on a white cane, PWD on crutches or wheelchair and other special contraptions for the physically impaired. 

The team is looking at internationally accepted standards of ramps with hand-rails to make public buildings accessible to PWDs, top and bottom spaces at ramps to allow easy manipulation of wheel chairs, properly installed stairs nosing, handrails, directional signage, a designated parking slot or slots for PWDs with properly installed signage, PWD accessible and friendly washrooms and toilets complete with swing-out doors, grab-bars and lavatories with lever type faucets, tilted mirrors.

BP 344 minimum basic requirements include the presence of accessible ramps, non skid flooring, accessible parking slots, directional signage and way-finding systems. 

Despite the clear passage and mandatory implementation of the law as incorporated in the Batas Pambansa 344, many new buildings, most especially government buildings and facilities in Bohol still need to make few corrections to be accessibility complaint, shows a team report. 

Recent accessibility audits by the PAMT at the Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) in Bohol, Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital Admin building, Out Patient Department building, Seaport Terminal in Tagbilaran and the ongoing Antequera Municipal Hall Building showed non-compliance despite being government buildings which should include PWDs as among its clients. 

Owing to the urgency of the implementation in the light of the construction boom in Bohol, another PAMT member Marietta Gasatan suggested that while awaiting for the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to mill the ordinance, an Executive Order can also be issued.

"Both actions should be done," Gasatan said meaning the proposed ordinance and a pro-tempore provision. 

"The implementation of the internationally accepted universal designs should be implemented especially in public institutions and not just in private sectors, and the PAMT should actively monitor, Gasatan, whose husband is an engineer, stressed. 

As Bohol PAMT scurries to get the two measures in and give more teeth to the law, tourism stakeholders see a barrier free tourism in Bohol as a source of income by catering to the usually untapped market of PWDS and older persons who could benefit largely from the accessibility law implementation. (rrac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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