De Lima wants inclusive opportunities for deaf community

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has underscored the need to exert more national and local efforts to raise public awareness in preventing and rehabilitating deafness and in creating inclusive opportunities for the entire deaf community.

In her message at the start of the National Deaf Awareness Week, De Lima renewed her call for the swift passage of her measure which seeks to ensure that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), including the deaf, are given easy access to basic needs.

Kasabay ng pagkalinga at pagbibigay-malasakit sa ating mga kababayan na may kapansanan, hangad natin na gabayan sila sa mga pagsubok na kanilang pinagdadaanan, maitaguyod ang marangal nilang pamumuhay at ang maayos na pakikisalamuha sa lipunan,” she said.

To this end, I have filed the National Commission for Disability Affairs (NCDA) Bill which seeks to transform the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) into a full-fledged commission that will bridge the gaps in promoting the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and their families,” she added.

De Lima’s bill, Senate Bill (SB) No. 188, underscores the role of the National Commission for Disability Affairs as the primary agency responsible for the implementation of policies aimed at fulfilling the rights of the PWD sector.

“It will ensure that PWDs, including the deaf community, have access to their basic needs, including healthcare, education, employment, and other necessary interventions,” she said.

Observed from Nov. 10 to 16, the Deaf Awareness Week was declared by then President Corazon Aquino by virtue of Proclamation No. 829 signed on Nov. 8, 1991. It is observed to focus public awareness on deafness prevention and rehabilitation.

De Lima, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, pointed out that the Filipino people should walk the extra mile in ensuring that the members of the deaf community are protected against discrimination and abuses.

In highlighting their susceptibility to abuses, she cited the case of a deaf couple, identified as Robelyn and Emmanuel, who were discriminated against when they were prevented from entering a mall by a security guard last year.

“I have also spoken out last year in defense of Robelyn and Emmanuel. [T]his is but one incident out of the many challenges they face and overcome on a daily basis,” she said.

“We should take it upon ourselves to make their voices heard, their rights upheld, and their welfare safeguarded. To empower our deaf Filipinos is a move towards a just society and genuine national development,” she added.

De Lima has authored several measures concerning the welfare of PWDs including, among others, Senate Bill No. 855 which seeks to establish institutional and social mechanisms to support persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

She has also filed Senate Resolution No. 534 seeking to conduct an inquiry on the status of the Accessibility Law and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. (30)

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