ZAMBOANGA CITY – In a remarkable display of inclusivity and empowerment, persons with disabilities (PWDs) from various barangays in Zamboanga City took the lead in this year’s celebration of the 45th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation (NDPR) Week.

The Department of Labor and Employment Regional Office 9 (DOLE 9), in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development 9 (DSWD 9) and other members of the Regional Committee on Disability Affairs (RCDA) Zamboanga Peninsula and other partners and stakeholders, kicked off the opening ceremony on July 17, 2023, at KCC Mall de Zamboanga, Zamboanga City.

Under the theme “Persons with Disabilities Accessibility and Rights: Towards a Sustainable Future where No One is Left Behind,” the event aimed to foster inclusivity, promote accessibility, and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).

DOLE 9 Regional Director Albert E. Gutib, in his message, ensured the Department’s commitment to public service through the consistent provision of equal employment and livelihood opportunities for PWDs through its One-Stop-Shop services, which allowed attendees to access various programs and services offered by the regional office.

Empowering PWDs economically, DOLE 9 turned over a livelihood check amounting to Php 390,000.00 to DOLE Accredited Co-Partner (ACP), People Micro Finance Cooperative (PMFC) to fund the Kabuhayan Starter Kits of 13 beneficiaries. These kits will support the beneficiaries in pursuing various livelihood projects such as Negokart, Dressmaking, Baking, Sari-Sari Store, Barber Shop, Glass Cutting, Rice Retailing, Carenderia, and Massage Therapy.

Additionally, DOLE 9 with it’s ACP, BLGU Tulungatung, facilitated the wage payout for 9 PWD beneficiaries under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay Para sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) program during the event. Each beneficiary received a wage of Php 3,510.00 for the ten (10) days of work and coverage with GSIS Personal Accident Insurance (GPAI). The beneficiaries, from various barangays in Zamboanga City, had the opportunity to contribute to their local community projects and cleanliness while earning a fair wage.

In recognition of employers who prioritize inclusivity in the workplace, DOLE 9 awarded Certificates of Recognition to several employers employing PWDs. Among the acknowledged employers are KCC Mall de Zamboanga, UNI Barber Salon & Spa, Zamboanga City Medical Cooperative, 4E’s Enterprise, Roselyn Tailoring & Embroidery, and Venus Beauty Salon. These employers have shown their commitment in providing equal employment opportunities and supporting the economic independence of PWDs.

ARD Gatinao underscored the importance of accessibility and rights for PWDs in society and labor market. “I praise the resilience and strength of this sector. It is therefore vital that we uphold their rights while ensuring their full participation in society. It is likewise important to create an environment where PWDs can thrive and contribute their skills and talents to the workforce,” ARD Gatinao said.

RD Riduan P. Hadjimuddin of DSWD 9, the Chairperson of RCDA Zamboanga Peninsula, also expressed his support for the celebration and the collective effort to safeguard the welfare and empowerment of PWDs. He emphasized the shared responsibility of government agencies, private sectors, and the community in advocating for the rights and welfare of PWDs, striving to create a more inclusive society where no one is left behind.

Meanwhile, other agencies who also provided their services through the one-stop-shop are DTI, ECC, CHR, TESDA, DA, ZCMC and Philhealth, allowing attendees to access various programs and services offered by the agencies. Among the services are general medical consultation, provision of seedlings, application to various services, etc. There is also a display of products made by the PWDs during the event.

The 45th NDPR Week Celebration, which runs from July 17-23, 2023, serves as a platform to promote awareness, collaboration, and meaningful change towards a sustainable future for PWDs. END/MTRepollo,TSSD.