In her staff, Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale has a deaf mute and a female employee without one hand.
She said Cebu's local officials should give special attention to their constituents with disabilities.
“The PWD (person with disability) sector is very important in our society yet they have been neglected. I'm hoping that they would be given the attention that they deserve,” she said.
Provincial Board (PB) Member Arleigh Sitoy, who heads the committee on PWDs, said education and employment are key concerns.
“The government can definitely provide our PWDs the opportunity to make the most out of their skills and talents,” said Sitoy, who counts himself a PWD.
Five years ago, Sitoy suffered a stroke which left his left leg and arm paralyzed. Since then, he has been dependent on a wheelchair and a pair of crutches.
Sitoy said he is considering work opportunities in cottage industries for PWDs with the government providing facilities and training.
“We, the PWDs, should give life a chance. The world where we were born has indeed made it difficult for us. But our conditions have brought us challenges which an ordinary individual has not been exposed to,” he said.
“The meaning of life is not the comforts that we have enjoyed but in the challenges that we have managed to hurdle through the years,” he added.
Under a Cebu provincial ordinance, each local government must designate a point person to oversee and focus on PWDs in the area, said Sitoy, “so the Capitol can allocate a budget to produce livelihood to them.”
Discrimination is expereinced by PWDs on a daily basis.
Francisco Armeneon was turned down by different employers at least 10 times before he convinced a welding company in Talisay City to hire him.
“I even applied to work as a janitor but I was not hired. I was told by potential employers that they could not make use of me because I don't have both hands,” he said.
Armeneon, 26, was born without both hands, his left foot, and lower right leg.
He was told by his mother that she was already in menopause when she gave birth to him.
“When I was a child, I could not join other children playing outdoor games. I just stayed on the side, watching them. I felt I was useless,” he said.
Armeneon said later learned to accept and overcome his physical limitations.
He uses artificial legs to walk and the tips of his arms to hold equipment.
“I'm doing my best so that I can earn money for my parents and siblings. Any PWD who loses hope is a coward,” Armeneon said. He said discrimination and being the subject of ridicule has always been part of his life.
“There are those who make fun of me. It really hurts me. But I know I cannot change my condition,” he said.
Last March, five deaf-mute customers complained that some waiters in a Cebu City restaurant made fun of them and refused to give them a discount.
Lawyer Ralph Sevilla of Boosog Lasang Pinoy Resto earlier apologized to the five customers during a conciliation meeting at the barangay Kasambagan hall.
In their complaint, the customers said they went last March 9 to the restaurant on Juan Luna Street in Cebu City and saw one of the waiters laughing at them and trying to imitate their hand gestures.
“When we saw those gestures, we felt insulted and hurt,” they said.
After eating, they asked for the bill and sought a discount as provided by Republic Act 9442 or the Law Amending the Magna Carta for Disbled Persons.
The complainants also showed newspaper clippings about PWD discounts. They were told that the restaurant wasn't giving discounts to PWDs. They ended up paying the full amount of P1,187.
Section 32 (a) of RA 9442 entitles PWDs to “at least twenty percent (20 percent) discount from all establishments relative to the use of their services.” (To be continued) /Ador Vincent Mayol, Reporter