PWDs say; we need access to voting precincts

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Majority of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) surveyed by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said that House Bill 4048 titled “Polling Center Accessibility Act” will be good for persons with disabilities because this will help increase PWDs participation in voting. The percentage is highest among visually impaired (84%) followed by orthopedically impaired (83%) and hearing impaired (80%). 

On the likelihood that PWDs will register in order to vote, the percentage is highest among the hearing and speech impaired (31%), followed by orthopedically impaired (29%) and visually impaired (15%). The nationwide SWS Survey of PWDs and Filipino Adults on Increasing the Participation of PWDs in the Coming 2013 Midterm Elections was conducted in December 3-7, 2011.

Meanwhile, during the recent launch of the Fully Abled Nation Campaign, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo emphasized that PWD is not only about social welfare concern; it is also a human rights issue.

Aside from providing them access to pathways and doorways, we should also help them exercise their right to vote,” he said. Robredo, whose father and two siblings are visually impaired, said that there are 2.6 to 3 million Filipino PWD voters. “What we need is provide them the access. We need more accessible registration sites and voting precincts so that PWDs will be encouraged to go out and out.”

Commission on Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento for his part expressed full support for the Fully Abled Nation Campaign. The three-year Disability-Inclusive Elections Program spearheaded by The Asia Foundation supported by the Australian Aid (AusAID) seeks among others public’s awareness on PWDs right to suffrage.

Reaching out to and working with PWDs has legal, constitutional and international support,” he said. “We have the 1987 Constitution, Omnibus Election Code, Law on Continued Registration, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Disabled, among others.”

Sarmiento added, “we have a vacancy in the COMELEC now and soon I am going to retire, it is my wish to see a PWD seated as COMELEC commissioner.”

He also stressed the need for a PWD party list in Congress who would champion their cause and will represent them in the lawmaking body.

This is a media release from the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc.

For more information, contact VIGIE BENOSA-LLORIN, 0918-2936786.

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