By Severino Samonte
MANILA — If you are a person with disability (PWD) using wheelchair as mode of transportation, you should avoid passing or going on a visit to Barangay Novaliches Proper in Quezon City.
By heeding this suggestion, you can save yourself from the inconvenience and danger of being hit by inconsiderate or careless drivers of trucks, buses, passenger jeepneys, private cars, motorcycles, tricycles and other types of motor vehicles along Quirino Highway, Gen. Luis Street and Susano Road in the area.
This is because the inadequate and narrow sidewalks in Novaliches, which are always occupied by numerous pedestrians and vendors, have no space to accommodate wheelchairs being used by paraplegics. As a result, PWDs moving on wheelchairs always have to compete for space with bigger and faster vehicles using the same roads.
Moreover, the narrow sidewalks of the three roads do not have adequate ramps for wheelchair-using riders as iron fences have been put up along both sides of the roads to prevent pedestrians from walking on the streets.
These problems have prompted wheelchair-user Olivia Peralta Mananquil of Gen. Luis St., Barangay Novaliches Proper, to seek the intercession of new Quezon City Mayor Joy G. Belmonte to solve their predicament.
In a Facebook message to the office of the mayor on Monday, Mananquil said: “Mayora, paki-check naman po ang accessibility ng mga naka-wheelchair sa Barangay Novaliches Proper. Hindi kami makadaan sa mga bangketa, nakikipagsabayan kami sa malalaki at mabibilis na sasakyan. Sasamahan ko po kayo na mag-ikot dito sa Novaliches Proper para makita ninyo ang hirap ng mga naka-wheelchair na pinipilit makapamuhay ng normal sa kabilan ng aming kapansanan.” (Mayor, please look into the accessibility problem of wheelchair users in Barangay Novaliches Proper. We cannot pass through the sidewalks, and we have to compete for road space with bigger and faster vehicles on the streets. If you wish, I will accompany you in going around Novaliches Proper so you can see the hardships the wheelchair users suffer in trying to pursue normal lives despite their physical disabilities).
After learning of Mananquil’s message, Mayor Belmonte told one of her assistants to immediately contact the message sender. She later sent this reply to Mananquil: “Salamat sa impormasyon, Olivia Peralta Mananquil. Kami’y nag-message sa iyo ukol sa iyong hinaing.” (Thank you for the information, Olivia Peralta Mananquil. We have replied to you concerning your grievances).
Republic Act No. 7277, or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), serves as the milestone law on disability rights in the Philippines.
Approved during the administration of former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992, the law provides for the rehabilitation, self-development and self-reliance of PWDs and their inclusion into the mainstream society. (PNA)