In order to break the barriers in the workplace and enable productive environment for Persons with Disability (PWDs), the provincial government of Cavite through the Provincial Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) conducted the Advocacy Forum in Promoting Inclusive Employment and Barrier-free Workplace in the province held on August 29, 2019 at the DPWH Seminar Area, New DPWH Bldg., Brgy. De Ocampo, Trece Martires City.

Participants to the post National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week Celebration were members of the Provincial PWD Council, officers of the Federation of PWDs in Cavite, city/municipal Public Employment Services Office (PESO) Managers; and some representatives from the private companies, all thankful for the provincial government’s initiative to raise awareness among them the provisions of the RA 10524 or the  Magna Carta for Persons with Disability, especially on inclusive employment. The orientation on the act expanding the positions reserved for PWDs was led by Mr. Ritchmon Jose from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-IV-A), discussing its aim to give PWDs equal opportunity for employment. Aside from the nitty-gritty of the act, Mr. Jose left everyone with an important quote from Scott Hamilton saying that “The only disability in life is a bad attitude,” which was agreed upon by many.

In addition, a tax technician from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Ms. Perlie Ann Garcia highlighted the tax incentives for employers hiring PWDs, sharing that private companies that employ PWDs are entitled to a gross income deduction equivalent to 25% of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to them. Ms. Garcia also tackled discounts that establishment should give PWDs.

Meanwhile, in order to show commitment to the theme “Lokal na Pamahalaan, Kabalikat sa Pagtupad ng Karapatan ng mga Taong may Kapansanan,” PESO manager of Bacoor City expressed interest of organizing same forum at the city/municipal level to educate employers as well as PWDs and their families, seeking for partnership with PDAO for strict implementation of RA 10524 in their respective cities/municipalities. Others shared their best practices and their programs that reach out to PWDs like the tulong-puhunan, nego-cart projects and more for their livelihood.

These advocates were welcomed by Administrative Officer Felimon Nueva of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), saying that the PWD Council is always welcome to use their facility; while on behalf of Governor Jonvic Remulla, guests and attendees were greeted by Provincial Administrator for Community Affairs Alvin Mojica, thanking DPWH for accommodating participants. Also, Mr. Mojica proudly shared that the provincial government has already employed a total of 44 PWDs as of 2018, telling that PGC will continue to hire PWDs with qualified skills that will match the job description of a certain position. Likewise, Ms Tina Puyat from the Office of Board Member Dennis Lacson who heads the Committee on Women, Family, Children, PWDs, Elderly and Social Services at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan pledged for creation of ordinances in the province that will protect PWDs and help them further develop.

On the other hand, Disability Affairs Officer IV Ms. Maris Haloc, head of PDAO, provided everyone with the definition of PWD which according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. However, Ms. Jossa Carreon, a Youtube influencer who has orthopedic disability has her own definition for PWD. Ms. Carreon told listeners and her followers that as for her, PWDs stand for Persons with Determination. She was able to open the minds of everyone inside the room with her words of motivation – to embrace differences and be proud because there’s always hope.

Since not having equal opportunities can put one at the back of the pack, PDAO has also invited the Operations Lead of Project Inclusion Network, Mr. Jim Nemeño from the Unilab Foundation, for the discussion on Access to Work Model: Breaking Barriers to Work Place. Mr. Nemeño started his presentation with true stories of employed PWDs to catch attention of participants. He was able to teach how to empower PWD jobseekers through career coaching facilitation; plus how to enable disability readiness of employers and how to engage strategic sectors by partnering with different organizations for a holistic access to work model. Mr. Nemeño also disclosed that 90% of PWDs perform at par or even better with their co-workers as per the Global Disability Inclusion, proof that hiring PWDs is really a win-win situation in the society.

In closing, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer Fely Servañez thanked everyone’s cooperation and contribution to achieve an enabling workplace for PWDs in Cavite. With more than 42,000 PWDs in the province as of year 2018, the government must continue to encourage private companies to believe when PWD jobseekers say “I can do that.”