Improving the Delivery of Public Services
Laoag City Government

The Problem

It is a common fact, not only in Laoag City, but elsewhere, that differently-able persons (DAP) suffer exclusion from society and are kept outside of the mainstream due to misconception and lack of understanding of their condition that lead to rejection or non-acceptance by the community and worse, by their respective families. Thus, these DAPs are treated with discrimination because they are perceived as a burden and a liability. The national government as well as the local government have earmarked budget for social services concerns but there is no separate and distinct program and its corresponding budget that will support and sustain the needs of the DAPs. Concerned agencies provide marginal assistance from their own level. There is no coordination nor integration of efforts in order to come up with a holistic approach to solve this problem. As a consequence, children with disabilities are deprived of getting educated since most parents prefer not to enroll their children who are treated with indifference and sometimes, with revulsion. There are parents though who believe that their children must have an access to education. Laoag City is lucky to have a Special Education facility for the purpose. However, said facility is barely equipped with the necessary learning and teaching tools as well as appropriately trained teachers. On the other hand, access to health care facilities is limited to what is dispensed by health centers. There is no health program that is dedicated to the needs of this group. Parents do not have the choice but to bring their children for consultation and treatment to health centers that cater to the community. More often, they feel embarrassed as the “normal” ones tend to stare unnecessarily or taunt their children. Those who have problems in physical mobility find it very difficult to go about. There are no ramps in buildings, there are no toilets exclusively for their use. If they feel the urgent need to go out, those who cannot walk have to be carried by the male members of their family. Assistive devices such as wheelchairs and canes were not given free but must be purchased. Therefore, only those who can afford to purchase are enjoying the freedom of mobility. There is only one private rehabilitation centersfor their therapeutic needs. Neither there is school for the deaf and for the blind.

Growing up to adulthood does not solve this sorry plight of the DAPs. Their survival is their primordial concern. With or without disabilities, they are bound to be economically productive. Skills training are offered but there is a need to translate their acquired skills into livelihood opportunities, their first step to being recognized as a “normal” member of society.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
In Laoag City, gone are the days when DAPs were hidden or subject to shame and ridicule. The 665 differently able people are now socially accepted, thanks to the City Government of Laoag and to all sectors of the City because of the implementation of the Integrated Social Services Program which ensures that “differently-able persons” can participate in and contribute to society in all spheres of life. This “change” in DAPs status was made possible through the following Integrated Social Services:
Awareness, Information and Education. As an offshoot of the ongoing information and education program, to date, there are 96 children with disabilities who are currently enrolled in the elementary and high school under the Special Education (SPED) Program of the Department of Education, of which 10 are beneficiaries of the Michael V. Farinas Scholarship Program.

Adequate Facilities. It is worthy to note that a total of 665 persons are now enjoying the benefits that this program aims to provide. They can now move about with the help of the assistive devices given to them. Accessibility facilities in buildings, sidewalks, among others were established for their added mobility and functionality. The Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC) building equipped with corresponding facilities was also established . This is a joint venture of the Katipunan Ng May Kapansanan Inc. (KAMPI), Danish Society and Polio & Accident Victim (PTU) and the City Government of Laoag t The STAC is now incorporated in the newly upgraded Laoag City General Hospital. In addition is the newly reconstructed SPED building.

Health Care. A total of 338 children with disabilities benefited from the medical, physical and physiological rehabilitation services of the STAC. Philhealth Insurance was also given to the differently able persons and their families, a local initiative that is imbedded in City Resolution No. 2009-029 Series of 2009.

Economic Contribution. Differently-Able Persons are now adequately provided with skills training opportunities and capital assistance for self-employment and occupational work which make them self-sufficient and economically productive. Some of the skills training conducted include: cosmetology, massage and shiatsu, dressmaking, flower arrangement and wreath-making, fabric conditioner, dishwashing liquid and bead works.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The “Improving Lives of Differently-able Persons Through Integrated Social Services Program” was the brainchild of CITY MAYOR MICHAEL V. FARIÑAS whose personal encounter with this special group touched his heart. Thus, after a series of consultation with the different concerned agencies and those of the private sector, and directing the City Social Welfare and Development Office as lead agency, the program was implemented in January 2005 to address the problems that beset this sector. Various programs, projects and activities were conceptualized and adopted to ensure the full participation and development of the DAPs. Corresponding budget thereof was provided.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office, together with the Office of the Differently-able person or OPDA, various programs, projects and activities were implemented with the full support of all stakeholders such as the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Health, City Engineer’s Office, Department of Public Works & Highways, Community Affairs Division, City Civil Registry Office, Department of Labor and Employment, STAC, and numerous non-government organizations and agencies such as Zonta Club, BALCIN, Alay sa May Kapansanan, Rotary Club,One World Institute,Ilocos Norte Medical Society, Philippine Band of Mercy, Philippine Chinese Chamber of Commerce,Latter Day Saints, Bible Believing Baptist Church and National Council on Disability Affairs.

Most importantly, the Organization of the differently-able persons and their families were acknowledged as contributory factor in the successful implementation of these various programs and services geared towards the DAPs’ total development.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The City Government enforced policies leveling economic and political activities, deliver necessary social and infrastructure services and implement programs and projects designed to assist all sectors by way of the development process, encouraging public-private sector partnership and empowering people into full participation towards the achievement of the development vision and goals.

These Integrated Social Services are 1) Human Rights Orientation through seminars and Rang-ay ti Barangay 2) Self and Social enhancement Program 3) Active involvement of differently abled- person and their organization 4) Networking based and cooperation 5) Respect for the needs and potentials of the differently- abled person as heterogeneous group 6) Establishment of Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC). This is a combination of advocacy and empowerment contributing to their development through education, information and acceptance. And with regard to their social protection, various activities were adopted such as 1) access to and social transfers ; 2) Social protection & Health Care Program (i.e., Philhealth Insurance coverage); 3) Practical Skills Training Program; 4) Self-Employment Assistance program; 5) Saklay Ko Buhay Ko Program 6) Wish Ko Kay Mayor program and 7) Iskolar ni MVF.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The Laoag City Government through the City Social Welfare and Development Office has established the Baseline Data on Differently-able person in 2004 in response to the Philippine National Registry of Differently-able person survey. Due to the increasing number of differently-able that are born from time to time, the City Government through joint effort of all stakeholders, continuously update the registration of DAPs. Information Education Campaign (IEC) on different disability is regularly advocated in various fora like Rang-ay ti Barangay, an outreached program conducted in different barangays, schools and other public assemblies. The registered DAPs were organized and joined effort in advocating their rights and priviledges in the different Barangays of Laoag City. After being organized, they themselves lobbied for a Resolution conferring official recognition of their organization and eventually work out for the establishment of their office – the Office of the Differently-able Affairs including funds thereat. It is manned by the Differently-Able Affairs Coordinator, a secretary/ utility worker. This Office is an avenue for all DAPs to thresh-out their issues, concerns and problems before they lay it out to the Local Chief executive. It form part their Objectives in improving the lives of all DAPs through proper and honest implementation of the Integrated Social Services. It further aim not only to improve their lives but be part of the City’s dream in development.

With all the various programs, projects and activities provided, they are now empowered & self-reliant and they themselves continuously advocate and work for the cause of all other DAPs. They are now the partner of the City Government in Decision-making and implementing various programs and activities towards their full development.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacles encountered were subject to show and hide from the community social exclusion of Differently –Able Persons lies at the core of the problem. Often defining the path the people take treated and accepted them. Anxiety and hopelessness crippled them more than their physical and mental limitation.
With this initiative these problems were overcome by providing the necessary assistance and support to the disable person in order to empower them, imbue in them the acceptance of their disability with dignity; make them self reliant by discovering and enhancing their skills and capability to make them self sufficient an asset and not a burden in their respective communities. An office was provided by the City Government where these differently able people can refer their concerns for appropriate and immediate solutions, with City Ordinance No., 2004-091 series of 2004 and under sec. 5 is the composition of the office staff, the Office of the Person with Disability Coordinator and clerk with functions stimulated at sec. 6 & 7 respectively.

The Disable Persons were not only empowered. Their families were likewise benefitted. They can now accept objectively the disability of a family member. They are now more responsive to their emotional and other needs, and they advocate to others to come out into the open and join the band wagon towards empowering their disabled family members.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The initiative gave rise to the active involvement of all differently- able persons in the City. An office was provided by the Laoag City Government where they can refer their concerns for appropriate and immediate solutions and wherein they can participate in the planning and decision making. For the past three years since the inception of this initiative, its annual budget has increased. The amount of 250,000.00 was allotted in 2009; Php 350,000.00 in 2010 and Php 440,600.00 for the current year 2011 alongside some private funds from non-government organizations amounting to Php 230,000.00. Another program of the city government is the Stimulation Therapeutic Activity Center which was originally co-funded by LGU and Danish Government Society until 2010. With an allocation of Php 334, 000.00 in 2009, Php 282, 153.00 in 2010, the city government assumed its total operation and appropriated an amount of Php 1, 100,000.00.

Different non-government organizations such as the Zonta Club of Laoag, National Council for Disability Affairs, Alay Sa May Kapansanan, Church of Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, Bankers Association of Laoag City and Ilocos Norte, One Word Institution, Ilocos Norte Medical Society, Rotary Club of Laoag, Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippine Band of Mercy and other private individuals actively support the program.

Aside from the NGOs, the tri-media through the Public Information Office and the Laoag City Press Corps, assist in the city-wide dissemination of this program and raise people’s awareness, giving emphasis to the services it provides, the rights, roles and functions of the Differently-Able Persons and the community’s participation in bringing the DAPs into the mainstream of the society.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The passage of Resolution No, 2004-017 conferring the city’s official recognition of the Differently-able persons signifies the intent of the city government to make the program attain its goal with maximum results and assuring its sustainability by providing adequate fund and getting the active involvement and commitment of the different stakeholders. Through the localization of national laws, the program is easy to replicate because it is doable and which addresses the felt needs and actual concerns of the DAPs.

As a consequence, the program has been expanded. The Breaking Barriers for Children-Stimulation Therapuetic Activity Center (STAC) at the Laoag City Social Welfare & Development Office was established. The STAC employes holistic rehabilitative approach to the differently able children 0-14 years old on medical, physical and psychological aspects. This endeavor is an offshoot of the initiative of the networking efforts of the differently-able persons, the City Government of Laoag with KAMPI and the Danish Government as main sponsor. Initially, this program is manned by the KAMPI and Danish Government for the first 30 months and will be turned-over eventually to the Laoag City Government. Again, making this program a city managed one makes it easy to replicate by local government units. This was made possible through City Resolution No. 2007-062 authorizing the Chief Executive, Hon. Michael V. Fariñas, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Katipunan Ng May Kapansanan sa Pilipinas, Inc. (KAMPI) and the Danish Society of Polio & Accident Victims (PTU) for the establishment of Project Breaking Barriers for Children in the City of Laoag.
Further, Resolution No. 2007-084 was passed earnestly requesting the Chief Executive Hon. Michael V. Fariñas thru CSWDO Aurora M. Corpuz and Chief of Hospital Dr. Eliezer Asuncion to establish the STAC while City Resolution No. 2008-041 was also passed requesting the Hon. City Mayor Michael V. Fariñas to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with Dr. Isaias Alipio, Jr. as the psychiatrist of the STAC. These Resolutions and Ordinances with corresponding yearly appropriations anchor the Program’s viability, sustainability and transferability. As a matter of fact, the STAC Center has four (4) satellite centers such as Batac City, Pinili, Paoay and Bangui and all of which are operational. Some clients and families, stakeholders and implementers from these satellite centers are largely benefiting and learning from the experiences and activities of the program and they turned out into program campaign multipliers in their respective locality.
Regular forum such as Lakbay Aral or Educational Tour are tools that are used to present the city’s programs and other initiatives which include the Improving Lives of Differently-able Persons through Integrated Social Services Program to groups, organizations and local government units that visit Laoag City. Both the stakeholders and beneficiaries and their families give testimonies of benefits derived from the program in various fora.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The program gave rise to the active involvement of all differently-abled person in the City. After all the initial assessment and consciousness raising done by the Laoag City Government, the differently –abled finally recognized the need to be formally organized, get involved, participate and work for their own development. The differently abled were not the only one empowered. Their families were likewise benefitted. They can now accept objectively the “disability” of their children. They are now more responsive to their emotional and other needs and they themselves advocate to other parents to come out into the open and join the bandwagon towards empowering their disabled family members.

Further, the differently-abled person are the one going into the different barangays to advocate Republic Act No. 9442 otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Disabled Person. A representative from their group are now members of the Task Force monitoring the implementation of B.P. # 344 or the Accessibility Law thus making Laoag City a Differently-abled friendly City. They lead the yearly celebration of National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week where they conducted various sports activities geared towards the improvement of their physical and psychosocial well being. Through this Integrated Social Services, they were able to improve their economic situation and now considered as partners in development. Their initiative and commitment leads them to win various sports competitions during Philippine Sports Development for Person with Disabilities (PHILSPADA), First Regional Olympic for Person with Disabilities (FROPD) and National Olympic for Person with Disabilities bringing Laoag City in the limelight.

On top of all these accomplishments, the City Government realized and learned that”to become truly happy and successful is to give the best to the helpless and the poor”. This program had touched the lives of the beneficiaries and is now doing their share touching others lives. Likewise, the City ponders on the quotes: “Do not withhold good to those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so”.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Laoag City Government
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   MICHAEL FARIÑAS
Title:   Local Chief Executive  
Telephone/ Fax:   (6377) 773-1100 / (6377) 772-0001 loc. 231 / F:(63
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Laoag City Hall, A.G. Tupaz Street, Barangay 10
Postal Code:   2900
City:   Laoag City
State/Province:   Ilocos Norte
Country:   Philippines

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