FOR THE first time since they were installed last July 1 as members of the 13th Sangguniang Panlungsod of Ormoc City, a councilor has availed of the privilege hour during their session this week.
He is second councilor Tommy Serafica, who appealed to colleagues and the City Government to probe and correct the accident-prone ramp at the City Hall that nearly cost him his life, a few days before.
Serafica slipped down the ramp at the city hall last Friday, August 15, as he was going down after entertaining guests from the Visayas group of the Philippine Councilors’ League. When he slipped, he banged his head on the railing, which caused him a minor concussion.
A bout of forgetfulness led his family to confine him at a hospital here for two days, until it was ascertained that he was fine except for a bump on the head.
Serafica, in his privilege speech delivered in the vernacular, said that his family was very thankful that he was fine. Even so, he said, it does not lessen his concern to others who might again fall victim to the treacherous ramp.
The councilor said that after his fall, he began hearing many horror stories of how many people have had an accident on the ramp. One, he said, was a barangay chairman. Another was a peanut vendor. And many more, he said. Even co-councilor Antonio Codilla, he added, was also a victim of the ramp.
He added that if the ramp was for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), as alleged, it does not conform to standards set in the building code for commercial and government buildings.
He shared that his daughter, Charisse, is an Occupational Therapist. After his accident, his daughter researched what the Accessibility Law requires and found out that the ramp is non-compliant.
Serafica said he was thankful that he was spared further harm from the accident but it was one tragedy he would not wish others to experience. “Simbako kun mahitabo sa uban, labi na sa atong mga bisita. Makeha ‘nya ang ato syudad,” he said.
In response to Serafica’s privilege speech, councilor Pedro Godiardo Ebcas rose to the challenge to probing the matter and to recommend corrective measures, if viable. He said that as committe chairman of public safety, the matter is within his scope because the city hall is a public domain. He said that together with the committee on infrastructure, they would have a joint meeting on the matter.
Ebcas is a civil engineer and understands building requirements. His wife, Maribeth, is a city architect.
Meanwhile, before letting the matter rest, councilor Gerry Penserga asked questions which the majority shared were vital to the issue.
The first question that Penserga asked is what was the purpose of the ramp, and secondly, who designed the City Hall so that its use would be explained.
Penserga said that if Serafica’s daughter was correct in saying that the ramp did not conform to the standards set to make public buildings PWD-friendly, “then what is the ramp for? What is its purpose?”
“Who designed the City Hall?,” he asked, adding that the designer or its architect can explain its purpose better and why it was steep than required and why it had floor tiles that were not apt for the structure. By Lalaine M. Jimenea