Today’s post is provided by Liz Gill-Atkinson, a Research Assistant on the W-DARE program. The post features an interview with Joy Garcia, president of W-DARE project partner WOWLEAP, a national organisation of women with disability in the Philippines, about her appointment earlier this year to the Philippines National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). The W-DARE team congratulate Joy on this achievement!
So Joy, tell me about your recent appointment to the Philippines National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)?
Joy – I was appointed as the Sectoral Representative for the disability sector to the National Anti-Poverty Commission. There are three nominees and luckily I was chosen as a representative by the President of the Philippines. It is a three year position and we have priority agendas. The priority agenda for the first year that we are thinking about and planning is looking towards the direction of the PDAO – the Persons with Disability Affairs Office. Every LGU (local government unit) should have a PDAO that will handle specifically and exclusively the affairs of persons with disabilities.
Another key issue is livelihoods, because the purpose of the Commission is really to eliminate poverty. Executive order 417 outlines economic empowerment for persons with disabilities. We want to promote it more so that 10% of the procurement from the government will come from persons with disability. Because whilst there is a law, implementation is yet to be fully realised.
The third issue of course is social protection, addressing social concerns of persons with disability, including health programs. I think that My involvement in the W-DARE research could help me with that because I have more knowledge about the access to basic services in the local communities, including sexual and reproductive health, which is not really so great in many regions. And of course education, health education and the disability cost. Disability cost meaning that if you are a person with a disability then there is an additional cost involved when you want to access livelihood and other employment opportunities.
Liz – and so is this the first time that there has been a Sectoral Representative for the disability sector on the commission?
Joy – No, it is an ongoing position. There has always been a person with a disability on the Commission. Previously they were called commissioners and now we are called ‘Sectoral Representatives’.
Liz – so what difference this make to you, being on the commission? Why is it important?
Joy – It is important to me on a broader scope because I can advocate more on a national level. Although TWH (Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Inc.) is already very famous and WOWLEAP (Women with Disability Leap to Social and Economic Progress) also is a national organisation, this time I will be working at a policy level. Although we are doing some policy development with TWH and WOWLEAP it is but it is not our centerpiece. It is more on an organisational level which includes all the different regions. But this (the Anti-poverty commission) is thinking on a broader scope, not on just an organisational level. With this there is the CM, we call it a CM, the council members. There are 23 council members and they help us to plan out the policy, the legislations to then help us to fast track them to become laws. Also there are some amendments that we have to propose.
Liz – so what do you hope to/would like to achieve in this position?
Joy – Of course the position is short term, it is only three years, and so I would like to do it step by step and of course by milestone. Like right now there is a planned milestone for this year which is getting a sponsor or a champion for policy developments or amendments to laws that we want pass, so we need a senator or a congressman. So those are the limits on we have to do. Another priority agenda item is to set up or replicate a livelihood study like TWH in three regions, including Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo and the other one is yet to be announced. But this first year is preparation only and of course setting up the centers is very difficult. . We are working together with the local government and international organisations as we don’t want our commission to stand alone. In my mind we need to collaborate with others so that we can work on a broader scope. Like I have already talked to the NCDA (National Council on Disability Affairs) about working together on the regional council on disability affairs, which is under NCDA, and then we have asked some INGOs (international non-government organisations) if they are able to help us out on the research and development and policy development side of it.
In my mind we cannot see a change unless we work together as one, with unity. Because there is a lot of talk about helping out, and also divisions of principles, and that is natural, but if more will work together with you, you can achieve more. That is my personal opinion.
Liz – thanks very much for speaking with me today Joy and all the best with the appointment.