DAA News Network

Philippines: Government failure to protect their human rights biggest challenge for disabled people

Posted 22/7-10 at 17.25

Disabled people in the Philippines claim that they are disabled less by their impairments then the denial of their human rights. They site, among other things, the government's failure to enforce the law that affords them a 20% discount on medicine. Physical access also continues to be a problem and only one out of three of the country's churches are wheelchair accessible.

At a recent human rights forum, a disabled person asked the panel, "Have you forgotten about us?" The panel's moderator refused to address the question, saying it was not on the meeting's agenda.

Roberto S. Salva executive director of the Catholic Ministry to Deaf People, observes that being "off the agenda" perfectly sums up the position of disabled people in the country. The excuse he says is that the country cannot afford to make the necessary changes.

But he points out that, "..., development and human rights go hand in hand. Now, the lack of development is our excuse for our disregard of the rights of some groups like the PWDs [ people with disabilities]. But, it is precisely this disregard of those rights that perpetuates our state of underdevelopment and further escalates poverty in the country."


He goes on to say, that disabled people "...find it harder to share in the task of nation-building because the nation is still shut down to them. Government institutions, even hospitals, are still not accessible to wheelchair users. Television programs -even news programs-are still not accessible to the deaf." Salva says that the country has ratified the UN Convention and should be held accountable for living up to it.

Editorial comment: As we never tire of saying, there must be ‘Nothing About Us Without Us.' However, no liberation/human rights struggle can be won without allies. Judging by his comments, Roberto Salva seems to be exactly the kind of ally the disability movement needs - insightful and outspoken.

 

 

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