CEBU CITY, Philippines - Several advocates from various organizations for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) all over the Philippines pushed for the inclusion of their sector in the planning and implementation of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management.

In the 2nd National Conference on Disability-inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (#DiDRRNatCon) held on October 11-13, 2017 at the Golden Prince Hotel and Suites in Cebu City, the advocates created a National Declaration.

The National Declaration was aimed to come up with a common understanding on disability-inclusion in relation to disaster risk reduction and management and further include in the programs and services of various government offices intended for Differently Abled Persons and come up with ways on how to make it more accessible for them.

Carmen Zubiaga, executive director of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), is hopeful that the National Declaration can be an instrument and reference for policy makers in revising some sections for PWDs embedded in the Republic Act 10121 or an Act strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System.

During the summit, the group invited Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, chairperson for Senate Committee on Local Government and Ways and Means and the Co-author of the Act expanding the benefits and privileges of PWD (RA10754) and Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson for Senate Committee on Climate Change, Finance and Foreign Relations and also Co-author of RA10754 to champion their cause. However both Senators weren't able to attend due the Senate Budget Hearing.

"This declaration will serve as the framework for action to institutionalize a disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction and management plans," Zubiaga underscored citing that they plan to hold the Disability-inclusive DRR National Conference and various activities annually and further lobby their National Declaration in various Local Government Units and in the House of Representatives and Senate.

Zubaiga further stressed that the 1st Disability-inclusive DRR National Conference was held sometime in the year 2014 held in Blueleaf Hotel Manila which was initiated after the Super Typhoon Yolanda affected several people in the country particularly in Tacloban, Leyte.

The advocates also pushed to have PWD representation in the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and Local Development Councils as they are among the most vulnerable sector during disaster along with the children, elderly, pregnant women and those who are sick. (By: Greggy P. Senados/ City of Cebu, Public Information Office)