Sources: http://www.philstar.com; and
Asia-Pacific Apr 23, 2012
MANILA, PHILIPPINES: Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Secretary Jesse Robredo has urged all local government units and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make registration sites and polling precincts accessible to persons with disabilities.
“Aside from providing them access to pathways and doorways, we should also help them exercise their right to vote,” Robredo said during the launching of the “Fully Abled Nation” project last week.
Robredo, whose father and two siblings are vision disability, noted that there are 2.6 to 3 million Filipino voters with disabilities.
“What we need is provide them the access. We need more accessible registration sites and voting precincts so that Persons with disabilities will be encouraged to go out and vote,” he said.
The Fully Abled Nation campaign is part of the three-year Disability-Inclusive Elections Program spearheaded by The Asia Foundation and is supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The program aims to increase the participation of Persons with disabilities in the 2013 midterm elections and other democratic processes.
Groups of Persons with disabilities in the country also backed the passage of House Bill 4048 otherwise known as the “Polling Center Accessibility Act.”
The bill, authored by Representatives Godofredo Arquiza (party-list, Senior Citizens), Teodoro Casiño and Neri Javier Colmenares (party-list, Bayan Muna), Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus (party-list, Gabriela), Rafael Mariano (party-list, Anakpawis), Antonio Tinio (party-list, ACT-Teachers), and Raymond Palatino (party-list, Kabataan), was approved on second reading by the House of Representatives.
A survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), conducted from Dec. 3 to 7, 2011, found that Persons with disabilities participation in voting is highest among the vision disabilities (84 percent) followed by physically disabled (83 percent) and hearing disabilities (80 percent).
Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said promoting the rights of the Persons with disabilities to suffrage “has legal, constitutional and international support.”
“We have the 1987 Constitution, Omnibus Election Code, Law on Continued Registration, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, among others,” he said.
Sarmiento likewise asked President Aquino to consider appointing a Comelec commissioner who will represent Persons with disabilities.
“We have a vacancy in the Comelec now and soon I am going to retire, it is my wish to see a Persons with disabilitieseated as Comelec commissioner,” he said.
He also stressed the need for a persons with disabilities party-list in Congress who would champion their cause and will represent them in the lawmaking body.