February 25, 2013

Dear Colleagues:

This is in response to comments from persons with disabilities that they are worried about the removal of the phrase “at least one percent” of the total budget of the national government agencies should be allocated to disabled persons and senior citizens. They said that because the 2013 GAA no longer mention “at least one percent,” there is a possibility that government agencies would lower the amount allocated to persons with disabilities or would no longer provide funds to programs and projects for persons with disabilities. This opinion may not necessarily reflect the sentiments of the entire persons with disability sector. However, for purposes of satisfying the queries of some individuals with disability the Office of the Executive Director of NCDA would like to state the following position on the issue:

  1. Previous GAA has two (2) sections that pertain to persons with disabilities in its general provisions. Section 29 mentioned the “at least one percent” for disabled persons and senior citizen and Section 31 mandates the construction of infrastructure and facilities for the use of persons with disabilities in all government agencies.
  2. Section 29 of the 2013 GAA has put together these two (2) provisions as “Programs and Projects Related to Senior Citizen and Differently-Abled. All agencies of the government shall formulate plans, programs and projects intended to address the concerns of senior citizens and differently-abled person, insofar as it relates to their mandated functions, and integrate the same in their regular activities. Moreover, all government facilities, including infrastructure, non-infrastructure and civil works projects of the government, as well as office buildings, streets and highways, shall provide architectural facilities or structural features and designs that shall reasonably enhance the mobility, safety and welfare of differently-abled persons pursuant to B.P. Blg. 344 and R.A. No. 7277.” This section has deleted the phrase “which shall be at least one percent of their budget” and maintained the use of “differently-abled”. We would like to state that “differently-abled” should be replaced to “persons with disability.” In addition, although we believe that the phrase “at least one percent” guarantees that the amount should not be less than the said percentage mentioned that will be allocated. Nonetheless, the 2013 GAA still assures the sector of persons with disabilities that government will provide an amount for programs and projects of persons with disabilities including certain amount for the implementation of B.P. Blg. 344. It is true that the amount may be lower than one percent, but taking into consideration the present government budgeting system the deletion of the phrase “at least one percent” gives government the flexibility to really provide the actual amount that would be necessary in the implementation of the programs and projects for persons with disabilities. This is so because the one percent rule may not be realistic in some government programs. The one percent of one government agency budget may be a very big amount, which is not reasonable in the allocation of projects for persons with disabilities. On the other hand, the one percent may be very small allocation in the budget of an agency for persons with disabilities. But be that as it may, government agencies following Section 29 of the 2013 GAA may allocate budget more than one percent or even lower than one percent. It is good if it is more than one percent allocation of the total budget because more programs and projects will be implemented to benefit persons with disabilities. But worst if the allocation is lower than one percent and the budget is not enough to benefit persons with disabilities. And this is happening in the government budgeting even if there is a one percent rule. It is in this regard, that our position is to recommend to the Department of Budget and Management to include in the 2014 GAA the phrase “at least one percent” so that there is an assurance of the one percent minimum budget requirement.