For more than a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered our education system. Its insurmountable impact affected millions of educators, learners and their families, in many aspects. The challenges they continue to face linger every single day as they battle to survive and push their limits in attaining the best educational outcomes with their individual limitations. Hindi biro ang mga hamon sa gitna ng delubyo. The times have demanded from all of them great strength to surpass even greater challenges that have never in recent memory been seen. Sa pagitan ng noon, ngayon at bukas, kinailangan nilang pagdaanan, lagpasan at pagtagumpayan.
Even before the pandemic, learners with disabilities already carried the burden of having to exert more effort to overcome their limitations in order to study, learn and participate in classes. Sa kabila ng mga balakid, palagian silang nagnininging upang ipamalas na hindi hadlang ang kapansanan sa pagtatagumpay. However well they adapt in life, however strong they can always stand in the middle of the storm to shine and always shine, the undeniable reality is that these learners have special needs that the State must not ignore, but rather address in a timely and effective manner.
Despite this unfortunate reality, the present system leaves much to be desired especially when our educational system remains exclusive and inequitable, leaving many families with learners with disabilities behind having to fend for themselves.
As a parent to a son and a grandparent to a grandson in the spectrum, I rise to strongly support the urgent passage of this measure. My experience raising my son, allowed me insight into the daily struggles and daily wins of families of children with special needs. So apt is the timing perhaps, even though still late in the coming, because I can only imagine how things have worsened with the new battlefronts that must be faced – those that have been brought about by this pandemic. This very noteworthy measure and reform in our educational system gives justice to the necessities of students with special needs which were unaddressed for decades until now. Sa pamamagitan ng panukalang ito ay malaking tulong ang maibibigay natin sa mga pamilya at mga estudyandeng may learning disabilities.
The shift to a paradigm of Inclusive Education is in furtherance of the State’s obligation to provide quality education to Filipinos with disabilities — an obligation not only implicit in the constitutional right to education, but also expressly undertaken by the Philippine Government upon its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008.
I thank Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and Pia Cayetano for shepherding this bill and I join everyone in this august chamber in pushing for its enactment.
Thank you very much.