The Asia Foundation Publishes Report on the Disability Sector in the Philippines
The Asia Foundation’s Coalitions for Change program and the Australian Embassy in the Philippines supported the research and launch of Philippine Disability Sector Research: An Initial Analysis on the Access to Social and Public Services, Education, Employment, and Civic Participation and Governance. This research aims to raise awareness, trigger more in-depth action research, and support policy development for a disability-inclusive Philippine society.
Over one hundred participants from various government agencies, nongovernment organizations, and organizations of persons with disabilities attended the launch. Consistent with the study’s findings, participants called for greater inclusion of people with disabilities, with better policy formulation and implementation and continuous monitoring to ensure that their voices are considered. Despite the Philippine Accessibility Law, government buildings still lack standard accessibility features, limiting most persons with disabilities from accessing public services. Miriam Llanos, president of the League of Persons with Disability Affairs Office, stressed the importance of establishing a Persons with Disability Affairs Office in each local government unit to collect data and oversee policy and program implementation.
President of The Philippine Federation of the Deaf Carolyn Dagani, noted the necessity of updating the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities, emphasizing the need to resolve conflicting ideals with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She called for the full implementation of The Filipino Sign Language (FSL) Act to make FSL an integral part of the education, mass media, and essential services to benefit the deaf sector.
Leaving the audience with a thought-provoking question, Disability Sector Representative of the National Anti-Poverty Commission Joy Garcia asked, “Our goal is an inclusive society, but how inclusive is inclusive? There are varying interpretations for these. The access features that we have may not be accommodating the sector.”
Closing the program on a hopeful note, Executive Director of the National Council on Disability Affairs Emer Rojas encouraged public and private sectors to work together to ensure disability inclusion. “We have to do more for persons with disabilities. We need to keep working together to initiate steps towards making policies and guidelines that are responsive and uphold the rights of persons with disabilities.”
While legal frameworks are essential, a society that advocates for the equity of persons with disabilities is equally important. The Asia Foundation’s Philippines Country Representative Sam Chittick said, “The responsibility falls on everyone to challenge ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors, public servants, and officials to change our mindsets towards disability, towards inclusion, and towards equity.”
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