The heavy down pour failed to dampen the high spirits of the participants of the first “Walk for Disability Rights and Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction” of the Municipality of Sigma, Province of Capiz. The activity pushed through as more than 100 locals joined the activity. They were mostly members of disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) of Sigma and officials and residents of the 21 barangays (villages) of the municipality.
Sigma is one of Handicap International’s intervention areas in the frame of the Restoring Livelihoods and Building the Resilience of Most Vulnerable People Affected by Typhoon Haiyan (iRESTORE) Project and the activity aimed to jointly celebrate this year’s National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week (17-23 July) and the National Disaster Consciousness Month (July) in the municipality.
During the walk, HI staff used a megaphone (bullhorn) and spoke of disability and inclusion messages to the residents who were reached by the parade. From Capiz State University-Sigma Campus, the participants and HI staff headed to the Municipal Civic Center where the rest of the program was held.
At the center, they were welcomed by Municipal Vice-Mayor Stephen Alayon and Municipal Councilor and Head of the Municipal Committee on Women and Children Arminda Aguanta who both expressed their delight in seeing the great number of participants despite the bad weather. They also expressed their commitment to support future activities for persons with disabilities and assured everyone that the municipal government’s offices are always open to provide any form of assistance to persons with disabilities.
The same participants were given orientation and discussion of different topics on disability and inclusion. Mr. Jennifer Barrios, Disabled People’s Organization Officer of Barangay Poblacion Norte, gave an orientation on human rights and disability rights; Engr. Ma. Paz Loro, Municipal Engineer, elaborated the Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law); Ms. Joy Salcedo, Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) Officer, discussed Republic Act No. 9442 (Magna Carta for Persons with Disability); and by Mr. Joel Benedict Bernas, Municipal DRRM Officer explained the DRRM efforts of the municipal government.
An open forum followed the discussions that gave the participants the chance to ask the resource persons and voice out different issues that they encounter as persons with disabilities. After the open forum, the participants had lunch before formally ending the event.
Prior to the event, HI coordinated with the Municipal Engineer’s Office and gave its officers and staff the orientation on Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law). Mr. Edward Ello, Inclusion Advisor of HI, taught the officers and staff the proper way to conduct access audit and helped them form their own access team which was tasked to formulate a proposal on accessibility modification of existing infrastructures in the municipality.
Moreover, Mr. Ello gave barangay DPO officers an orientation on human rights and disability rights. Mr. Barrios was coached to be a resource person of the topics hence he was chosen to re-echo the orientation to other DPO members through the NDPR Week celebration. As a person with disability himself, he tried to encourage the participants with disabilities to assert for their rights and disallow others to mistreat them by knowing their rights and realizing their capacities.