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BLIND SPOT: Right fights for rights

Human rights violations have been a staple in Philippine broadcast media for the past… well, past year (concurrent with the current administration); with digitless corpses with signboards to wrongly accused foreign businessmen and the violation of the right to decent presidential verbal . communication. With these, it’s quite easy to turn eyes from the blind spot of a particular sector of society. The study, Rapid assessment of disability in the Philippines, published in August 2016, concludes that “The prevalence of disability among adults in District 2 of Quezon City and in Ligao City is higher than the estimated national prevalence of disability derived from the 2010 Philippines census. Disability is also associated with lower well-being and reduced participation across a number of domains of community life.” Let’s spell it out. There are more Filipinos with disability in the Philippines than what the government believes (based on census data). Filipinos with disability in the Philippines commonly do not live in good conditions of self-care, pain, interpersonal relationships, sleep, energy, and effect”. Many Filipinos with disability in the Philippines experience psychological distress, particularly, depression and anxiety (including persons with disability which is not psychosocial in nature). “Mental health is known to be associated with social participation, access to economic resources, and freedom from discrimination and violence, all conditions which people with disabilities are less likely to attain contribute to their poor mental health “. Filipinos with disability in the Philippines experience “poorer well-being and reduced access to services related to health, work, rehabilitation, education, government social welfare, and disaster management”. They also “experienced significant participation restrictions”. “having a disability and negative family attitudes were reported as barriers for people with disabilities participating in work, community meetings, religious activities, and social activities suggesting stigma associated with disability in these communities”. ( Furthermore in other words, there are more Filipinos with disability in the Philippines than we think there are. Many Filipinos with disability in the Philippines experience depression and anxiety. Many of them do not have access to basic government services. Many of them are restricted from enjoying interactions with other people; and this case is true to Filipinos rich and poor alike. The results of the study implies that there is probable prevalence of low socialization, low economic resources, violence, discrimination, and negative attitudes among Filipinos with disability in the Philippines. In 2015, the Philippine Statistics Authority received disapproval from the National Council on Disability Affairs and other persons with disability on not including questions on persons with disability on the 2015 census. You’re probably thinking so what, they don’t have an entry on the sheet for PWDs; that’s just a small thing. However, this omission gives vast implications. A census serves as “Data collection and production of information for government services and local authorities, for budgeting purposes”. Exclusion of questions on PWDs on a census implies that demographic data on the said sector of society would be not collected for appropriation of fund for government services. It further implies that intentionally or unintentionally, the government does not intend to include programs for PWDs in its services. This suggests that programs for PWDs are not based on accurate and logical information, and therefore, services would similarly be inaccurate and illogical. There would be a mismatch between programs to actual needs. It’s going to be a big guessing game. Furthermore, non-government organizations which extend aid for PWDs would not have basis to plan and implement their programs. In effect, needs are not met, problems are not solved. They might as well not have a program at all. Okay, maybe to some extent, a few problems had been resolved; but there is high probability that without basis of research, treatment of the true trouble will run amiss. The last census which is the source on demographics on Filipinos with disability, which is on population and housing was released on 2010 – seven years ago (the length of time for a missing person to be declared dead). However PSA has coordinated with NCDA to conduct a survey on PWDs which was set on 2016, which had been conducted initially in selected cities; the preliminary results have been released. The whole nation celebrates the 39th National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week from July 17 to 23 “to stimulate public awareness on the issues and problems of disability and encourage every citizen of the country to take active responsibility in the upliftment of the economic and social conditions of all persons with disabilities (PWDs) in our society”. This year’s celebration “focuses on the realization of the fundamental freedoms and rights of persons with disabilities”. “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow … who are poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

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