As we end the month of July, we congratulate the Cebu City Council for passing an ordinance that requires tourism-related establishments to provide facilities for persons with disabilities, children, women and the elderly.
Under the ordinance, restaurants, malls and resorts will follow “universal and inclusive design specifications” like ramps and handle bars in swimming pools, parking areas and emergency exits.
In this day when tourism is geared towards adventure sports and international sporting events like the upcoming Cobra Ironman 70.3 triathlon, it’s still good to know that the city government is doing its part to open the doors further to the differently abled, many of whom registered last July 20 for the 2016 elections.
In fact, the council announced an intensified information drive on the ordinance during the third week of July which was declared by the national government as National Disability Week.
The announcement also came during the celebration of National Tourism Congress Week wherein stakeholders from government and the private sector discussed ways to further improve the country’s tourism prospects.
The ordinance complements the National Accessibility Law which requires all building owners and even public utility vehicle (PUV) owners to build ramps and bars for PWDs.
Unfortunately, that law is given token compliance by many building owners despite the PWD-friendly plastic sign plastered on their walls. Thus, the differently-abled still require assistance to walk up the stairs or even to relieve themselves.
All major malls in Cebu City have more or less complied with the Accessibility Law to no surprise because they have a reputation to protect. The same cannot be said of smaller building owners who have less than thriving businesses occupying their premises and thus have to scrimp on construction expenses.
The ordinance seeks to correct that mentality and while we don’t expect immediate results or effective enforcement of the Office of the Building Official very soon, the fact that there is such a law is an assurance that PWD groups can look forward to.
We hope Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama signs the law immediately and we trust he will, if he keeps true to his word of a sustainable, accessible Cebu City for all.
PWDs remain a valuable part of the country’s labor force and society, a human resource that goes beyond their physical limitations, considering their willpower to make something of themselves.
They should not be denied the same privileges and conveniences afforded to people who don’t have disabilities and even waste the gifts that they have now in abundance.