Good news for persons with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has allocated P11.1 million to provide assistive devices to benefit the PWD sector and the senior citizens under its proposed 2021 budget.
This was relayed by Director Wayne Belizar of the DSWD Financial Services to the House Committee on Appropriations during its recent eight-hour deliberations on the agency’s proposed budget for 2021.
“For fiscal year 2021, we have a budget for older persons and persons with disabilities in the amount P11.167 million,” he said, after Negros Occidental Rep. Ma. Lourdes “Marilou” Arroyo, chairperson of the House Special Committee on Persons with Disability, quizzed the DSWD if it has funding allocation for 2021, specifically intended to the PWDs.
Belizar noted that for this year, they have a budget of P10.97 million to provide assistive devices to the country’s vulnerable sectors.
Arroyo also asked the DSWD if it has allotted specific funding for the PWD sector in its 2021 proposed budget, which prodded DSWD Assistant Secretary Glenda Relova to clarify that the P11.167 million funding is “solely for assistive devices.”
“I was informed that the National Council on Disability Affairs received a hundred complaint every day mostly requesting for financial assistance and many are asking about how they can secure PWD IDs,” she said.
“I am asking what can we give to our PWDs because the NCDA is just policy making and they have their have own plantilla. How about the other indigent PWDs? What is there for them (in the 2021 budget)?” the House leader said.
She laments that about 85 percent of the PWDs who are single have been deprived to receive emergency cash subsidy under the national government’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP). “Most of them are unemployed because of the pandemic,” she said.
Relova explained that under Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, the unit of SAP assistance is per family
“It is sad that this single PWDs are not eligible to be recipient of SAP. Based on the law, RA 11469, the recipient of SAP are those families, the unit of assistance are families,” she said.
However, she said the DSWD is implementing other programs to assist the PWDs, such as the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).
Relova noted that as of July 2020, the agency has served 5,185 PWDs, 3,881 of whom are provided with financial assistance.
“We have programs for persons with disabilities like provisions of assistive devices. We also conduct psychosocial counselling to them and other programs like the livelihood assistance. We also have non-residential care facilities, exclusive for PWDS,” she said.
Last June 30, the DSWD announced that starting this year, it has earmarked an annual budget of P100,000 for each of its Field Offices to provide assistive devices to PWDs in the country.
“The person with disability sector is among the most affected by the declaration of community quarantine brought about by the spread of COVID-19 in the country. To help them regain and develop their self and social enhancement, the DSWD, through its Field Offices will provide augmentation support for the assistive devices of blind and low vision, deaf or hearing impaired, and orthopedically and physically challenged individuals,” it said in a statement.
Among the assistive devices to be given to the PWDs are talking laptops and tablets, talking canes and smart canes, and Braille system for the blind and visually impaired; hearing aids with beam forming technology, customized headphones, and cochlear implant for deaf and hearing impaired; motorized wheelchair, customized wheelchair, tri-wheelchair bike, talking watch, customized artificial eyes, and neuro-prosthesis for the orthopedically and physically challenged.