June 23, 2024

“Life is beautiful,” says this amiable and articulate person.
He is Dr. Samuel Aquino, head of the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) of City Hall, directly under the jurisdiction Engr. Felipe Puzon, executive assistant to Mayor Benjie Magalong.
Sam, who is a Doctor of Philosophy graduate of the Benguet State University, has an international diploma in Special Education from the University of Ghent, Belgium. He is a Civil Service professional and a secondary teacher.
He had a lot of struggles in his life but with sheer determination and indomitable spirit, he was able to overcome them. Despite the feather in his cap, he still dreams to become a lawyer in the future.
His father, the late Fred Aquino, hails from of Mangaldan, Pangasinan and his mother, Virginia Andaya, is from Ganio, Tabuk, Kalinga. He has three other siblings: Bernard, Alexander, and Marshall.
With him in PDAO are Mario Ganga and Pacita Lachica.
The PDAO was established in every province, city and municipality by virtue of Republic Act 10070, which amended RA 7277, or otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, during the term of President Gloria Arroyo. 
RA 10070 provides that local chief executives shall appoint a PWD affairs officer as the focal person who shall manage and oversee the operations of the office and priority shall be given to qualified PWDs to head the said office.
Some of the functions of the PDAO are: to formulate and implement policies for the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs), to coordinate the implementation of the Accessibility Law, to represent PWDs in development meetings and to disseminate information on training and employment opportunities for PWDs and to process the registration of PWDs in their areas of jurisdiction and this includes issuance of PWD IDs.
“The PDAO head should be a person with disability, “ said Dr. Sam, a recipient of the “One Peso Drive” of Saint Louis University Commerce family and fathers of CICM for his surgery.
“ I am a person with orthopedic disability. I am a victim of poliomyelitis since the age of two years old. Through the invitation and help of Sisters Myrna and Alphonsine of the ICM I was operated on. My operation and recuperation took about six months. I continued my course with the use of two crutches for a semester. I had another surgery at the SLU Sacred Heart Hospital in summer. The operations helped me to gradually walk from two crutches, to one, until eventually without the use of crutches,” he shared.
Dr. Sam orients PWDs applicants when they go to his desk located at the mayor’s office for the processing of PWDs IDs. He explainsthat there are protocols in the processing of PWD registration and per Department of Interior and Local Government Memorandum s. 2020.These are: verification of the legitimacy of the medical certificate issued by doctors proving disability; a valid license of the doctor issuing the medical certificate, and an added security feature of the PWD ID will have a QR Code or bar code that cannot be easily duplicated.
Further, “to qualify for PWD I.D and the benefits attached to it, the doctor should certify the disability. The medical certificate should be issued by the doctor who has expertise on medical field of the particular disability. (NCDA Board Resolution # 1 s. 2016).”
Any person with disability can apply but must present the following: an updated medical document related to the disability, a barangay residency certificate and two pieces of 1 x1 photo. The following disabilities were listed: visual disability, communication disability, orthopedic disability, intellectual disability, learning disability and psychosocial disability.
In a DILG news issued last June 25, 2020, DILG Secretary Eduardo Ano stated, “Maganda ang intensyon ng batas pero mayroong mga taong gustong abusuhin ang pribilehiyong ibinibigay sa mga tunay na PWDs. LGUs should, therefore, be wary of such individuals who want to secure a PWD ID even if they are not entitled to PWD privileges.”
Under RA10754, or the Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of PWD and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) should be adhered to and not abused by unscrupulous persons who want to take advantage of the discounts.
PWDs are given 20 percent discount; exemption to value-added tax (VAT); five percent discount on basic necessities and prime commodities; and free use of express lanes in commercial and government transactions.”
When asked about his advocacies, Sam enumerates,” I would like to conduct a series of barangay council meetings with the barangay kagawads on social services where the sector of the PWD belongs, steer a disability affair orientation, form an organization as mandated by the City Ordinance 47 s. 2017, establish a PWD desk to be manned by a barangay official, a volunteer, or a PWED to handle PWD concerns, create a PWD committee led by the punong barangay and the chairperson of the Committee on Social Services.
The committee will have the following functions: to serve as an advisory committee to the barangay council on PWD concerns, to propose to the barangay council concerned annual budgetary allocations for the operation and maintenance of the PWD desk; to formulate development plans and programs for PWDs and coordinate and monitor its implementation, to mobilize participation for the benefit of PWDs and to assist in the formulation of the guidelines in the operation of the PWD desk.
Sam also mentioned that one of his most memorable experiences as PDAO head is the evaluation of the 128 barangays vying for “Best Performing Barangay” where one of the criteria included for it to be PWD-friendly.
Indeed, “Life will be beautiful” if the barangays would also focus on the concerns of PWDs in its constituency.
For more information, please contact PDAO at telephone numbers 442-7228 and 09955390529or email [email protected].