Leila de Lima filed a bill seeking to institutionalize the mandate of the National Commission on Disability Affairs.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, File
De Lima files bill empowering disability council on int'l day of PWDs
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 3, 2019 - 12:53pm

MANILA, Philippines — Coinciding with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Sen. Leila de Lima announced in a statement Tuesday that she filed a Senate bill looking to empower the National Council for Disability Affairs by giving it institutional capacities.

De Lima said that her vision in filing Senate Bill 188 was for the NCDA to "be the lead policy-making, planning, monitoring, and coordinating body that will develop, formulate and implement programs for the prevention and rehabilitation of disabilities."

"There will never be an acceptable excuse or reason for PWDs to be neglected, abused or sidelined," De Lima said. 

"As we strive [to increase] public awareness in every aspect of PWDs' political, social, economic and cultural life, so too do we want to provide them with equal protection under the law, enhance their capabilities and provide better opportunities to improve their plight."  

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri in August also filed a similar measure in the form of Senate Bill 108 which sought to convert the NCDA into a commission. This, too, would institutionalize the agency's mandate and afford it data collection, needs identification and policy formulation capabilities.

In an earlier interview with Philstar.com, Association of Empowered PWDs Philippines, Inc. President Daniel Evangelista, who is a PWD himself, said that disability legislation in the Philippines was still very much lacking on many fronts. 

The below-knee amputee said that for the over 700 members of his San Pedro, Laguna-based organization of 14 barangay chapters, the biggest challenge for the disabled was still mobility. 

RELATED: Groups say House reps' slamming of PWD card abuse exposes holes in disability legislation. Here’s how

“Mga disability laws namin, magaganda. Ang kulang is the execution at implementation. Hindi talaga ini-implement ng local executives natin,” he said. 

“Ang DILG, ayun, tinutulungan nila kami, pero hindi nila kaya as one agency lang. Very lax ang aming mga LGU. Walang ngipin ang mga laws natin para sa mga disabled.”

(Our disability laws are very good, but what is lacking is execution and implementation. They really aren't implemented by our local executives. The DILG helps us, but they can't do it as one agency. Our LGU is very lax. Our laws for the disabled have no teeth.) 

Evangelista also added that having one uniform agency to course PWD concerns would make all the difference. 

“There must be one agency na pwedeng pagreklamuhan. Eh wala tayo eh, politics talaga, yun ang umiiral.”

(There must be one agency that we could complain to. But that's the way it is, politics still prevail.) 

'Fake PWDs' 

Most recently, Reps. Eric Go Yap (ACT-CIS Party-list) and Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan Party-list) in October called for a probe into what they said was the abuse of PWD card privileges. 

The two encouraged restaurant employees to take pictures of suspected fake PWDs, saying they would defend them if they were sanctioned. 

PWD groups told Philstar.com that they found this statement unfair because it baselessly put the responsibility of proving one's disability on legitimate PWDs despite already being legally recognized as such by the very card being disputed. 

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations to be celebrated every December 3 since 1992.

"Malinaw sa akin: Hindi awa ang kailangan nila, kundi ang malalim na pag-unawa sa kanilang sitwasyon, kapansanan, at mga hamong pinagdadaanan," De Lima said in her statement. 

"Kailangan nila ng kaagapay mula sa ating lahat, ang patas nating pagtingin at paggabay para makamit nila ang normal at marangal na pamumuhay."

(It is clear to me that sympathy is not what they need but rather a deep understanding of their situations, disabilities, and challenges that they face. They need support from all of us and an equal approach and guidance for them to achieve a normal and peaceful life.) 

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITY PERSONS WITH DISABILITY PWDS
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