Making Workplace Inclusion a Reality: The Davao City Experience
Cheerful and efficient in his work as a computer encoder in the City Government of Davao, 32-year-old Rafael ‘Raprap’ Somoso, did not have it easy. Born with cerebral palsy, Raprap came from a broken family and had to work his way to support himself.
“Ang akong pagkabata sa una dili lalim kay sa una gibilin ko sa akong inahan sa iyang barkada,” (My mother left me with her friend when I was only one year old) Raprap says. For a time, he was sent to Manila without any support from his father. He took comfort from his grandfather, who took steps to provide whatever little that he had for him. Unfortunately, before he could finish school, his grandfather died.
Determined to get through in life, Raprap was able to get a scholarship as Information Technology (IT) technician from Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Davao City. His first job was as a technician at an internet café which he did simultaneously with his studies. Two years after, he graduated, and his education helped him land a job as one of the 80 persons with disability the Davao City government has employed.
Despite his mobility issues due to his disability, Raprap is responsible for encoding data and the issuance of IDs at the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO). In addition, he assists in the program monitoring for Persons with Disability, does master listing and delivers correspondence to other agencies.
Raprap said he thoroughly enjoys his work as it involves dealing with different people and departments. He also feels the support from his work colleagues, who often rely on him to carry out tasks. “Makat-on man ko nila, sama sa naa pud sila’y mahibal-an gikan nako,” (I get to learn a lot from them when they interact with me), he added.
He often gets surprised when people express a keen interest in the programs for Persons with Disability. However, Raprap believes there is a need for stronger support as most private companies are hesitant to employ Persons with Disability.
His colleagues only have their kind words for him. “Si Raprap, parang naging dependent na kami sa kanya. Hindi kami makakilos kung wala siya. Maganda din ang pakikitungo niya sa amin,” (Raprap is dependable. He is a valuable asset in our organization. We also have a good working relationship), affirms Andre Bulay, President of the city-wide Federation of Persons with Disability, with whom Raprap regularly engages with.
Helen Adorio, Administrative Assistant of the Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office (PDAO), says that Raprap has been a trustworthy colleague who patiently assists everyone, especially his fellow Persons with Disability.
Giving equal opportunity
Section 5, or the Equal Opportunity Employment provision of Republic Act 10524, which expands the positions reserved for persons with disability, indicates that:
“At least one percent (1%) of all positions in all government agencies, offices, or corporations shall be reserved for persons with disability: Provided, that private corporations with more than one hundred (100) employees are encouraged to reserve at least one percent (1%) of all positions for persons with disability.”
Marilyn Agonia, CSSDO Assistant Chief, notes that the city government’s efforts to ensure that Persons with Disability are included in the workplace and the city’s development program started as far back as 1992. “Part of the (national government’s) devolved programs was the Persons with Disability welfare program, and part of it was the organization of the Persons with Disability,” Agonia points out.
Agonia recalls that during the city government’s profiling, they found out that there were several employable Persons with Disability. They coordinated with the Human Resource and Development Office to come up with a hiring scheme for Persons with Disability to give them employment opportunities. The initiative started with hiring 50 movie ticket checkers to help the city government keep track of the income of movie houses. They have been practicing inclusive employment ever since.
Barangay-level inclusion initiatives
Ma. Luisa Bermudo, CSSDO Chief, says that the master listing and organizing at the barangay level enable Persons with Disability to participate in their own development. There is an association of Persons with Disability that helps identify how Persons with Disability can specifically take part in the planning and implementation of programs on the ground level. The association can access funds from the barangay for their respective concerns and lobbies through their Barangay Development Council (BDC). The BDC is part of the city’s annual planning of development interventions for the sector. With involvement from its 182 barangays and three Persons with Disability federations, Davao City is in a good position to uphold the welfare and rights of Persons with Disability.
“There is dialogue with the barangay and consultation with agencies that should be involved in carrying out the programs [with the Persons with Disability],” Bermudo says. The barangay also provides livelihood support and scholarships for eligible Persons with Disability.
Most of the city’s employed Persons with Disability, however, hold job order or contractual positions due to civil service requirements. Persons with Disability also must comply with the basic civil service eligibility requirement in order to hold a plantilla or a permanent position within the government.
Agonia also recognizes that more can be done in order to promote workplace inclusion in the private sector. At the moment, they are holding education sessions on the rights of Persons with Disability. She encourages Persons with Disability like Raprap to keep on working towards personal development. “Continue with your studies, learn new skills so that you can support yourselves. Never lose hope because you can support yourselves, as Raprap [has] already shown,” she says.
The Davao City government, in partnership with non-government organizations and other national agencies, shall continue to help make workplace inclusion a reality not just for Raprap, but for other Persons with Disability. (Radzini Oledan/ Project Inclusion)
Watch the story of Raprap here.
This 2019, the Australian Embassy and The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines, through Fully Abled Nation and Project Inclusion, continue to shine the spotlight on workplace inclusion through “May 1% Ka Ba?”, an advocacy campaign promoting access to work opportunities for Persons with Disability.
Fully Abled Nation (FAN) was established in 2011 as a multi-sectoral coalition with constituents from various government agencies, civil society organizations, disabled peoples’ organizations, and the private sector. In the 2013 and 2016 elections, FAN partnered with COMELEC and made elections more accessible for Persons with Disability. Under the Coalitions for Change (CfC) program, FAN is currently focused on inclusive education and inclusive employment.
Project Inclusion is a program of Unilab Foundation, Inc. that enables access to work opportunities for Persons with Disability. Since its inception in 2013, the program has provided improved work access to over 1,000 Persons with Disability, and over 250 of them are now employed in various industries.