Actor and Quezon City 5th District Rep. Alfred Vargas recently launched the “Pwedeng maabot ang pangarap!” movement via PWeDe!, a program for persons with disabilities (PWDs). The program focuses on supporting PWD livelihood centers, providing puhunan programs, and offering wheelchairs and hearing aids to those with special needs.
Financial aid through Vargas’ “Pantawid Graduation” program can also be granted to senior graduating students with disabilities. The legislator will also organize skills development and leadership trainings for both young and old.
Vargas said, “It’s time to empower PWDs who have long suffered from neglect. Sa tulong ng PWeDe!, gusto nating mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang PWDs na mangarap, makapagtrabaho, makatapos ng pag-aaral at magkaroon ng magandang buhay. Because in the end, PWEDE naman talaga kung magtutulungan lang tayo.”
Vargas’ advocacy for PWDs was inspired by his grandmother who had her legs amputated due to bone cancer when he was eight years old. The passion to help was rooted in his early awareness of the hardships PWDs go through.
“Losing her leg changed my lola’s life. From being a vibrant and active person, she suddenly had limited mobility and was confined to a wheelchair until the last days of her life. Seeing my lola’s ordeal planted the seed of this advocacy of mine long ago,” he said.
Vargas used to collect tabs of soda cans in school for donation to a non-profit group which makes wheelchairs. He also looked out for the welfare of showbiz workers with disabilities.
During his first term as councilor in 2011, Vargas filed an ordinance establishing a Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office (PDAO) in Quezon City. The ordinance was swiftly passed with the support of the city council, making Quezon City one the first local government units in the country to have an office dedicated to PWDs.
Vargas continues his advocacy for PWDs in the House of Representatives. Among the bills he has already filed are HB 1393(An Act Expanding the Benefits and Privileges of Persons with Disabilities), HB 2017 (An Act Mandating the Provision of Exclusive Parking Space for Persons with Disability and Penalizing Unauthorized Use Thereof), HB 3489 (An Act Providing for Accessibility to Built Environment, to Transportation, Information and Communications Technology and to Other Facilities and Services Open or Provided to the Public for Persons with Disabilities), and HB 4021 (An Act to Provide Persons with Disabilities with Online Volunteerism Opportunities).
PWeDe! was launched last Saturday, August 22, which coincides with the birthday of Vargas’ mother, Atty. Susana D. Vargas, who succumbed to cancer in 2014. Vargas hopes that through PWeDe!, PWDs will have more opportunities to thrive with the help of people and partner organizations who have their best interests at heart.
“PWeDe! is now here to help provide development opportunities that empower our PWDs so that, together, we can create a more inclusive society,” he said.