Banning alcoholic beverages for PWDs is ableist | Inquirer Opinion
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Banning alcoholic beverages for PWDs is ableist

/ 04:05 AM July 27, 2022

It was toward the end of December 2021 when Christmas songs were being heard around the neighborhood. I attended a small get-together with my acquaintances in a restaurant in Metro Manila, where we were all served several beers and some side dishes. Despite my medical doctor’s warning that it would affect my autism and bipolar disorder, I drank several beers to the point when I was being punched by excessive drunkenness. Lucky for myself, I was able to carry on with such hangovers. With the reprimands of my medical doctor a few weeks after the incident, I admitted to him that I was the one who decided to undergo such action, thereby taking such responsibility.

Recently, however, there is a bill filed in Congress by Representatives Eric Yap and Paolo Duterte regarding alcohol intake restrictions. Aside from banning such intake for those below 21 years of age, it also seeks to ban those who are 21 years of age and above “but are unable to fully take care of themselves or protect themselves from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation, or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition.”

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While it seems to be reasonable based on the headlines in news articles, such a proposal fails to account for the nature of the disability. Traditionally, we define disability as more of a medical one wherein it is equivalent to biological impairment. However, critics, mainly disability advocates, consider this an insult to the PWD community since it fails to account that what makes them disabled is not because of impairments but rather the restricted social organization of this society and the system that imposes on the disabled community.

As PWD Philippines president Arpee Lazaro said, banning alcoholic beverages for PWDs limits the right of the PWDs to make similar decisions that able-bodied persons could make. It goes against what disabled persons are fighting for: a true sense of equality with those without disabilities.

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In my perception, however, banning alcoholic beverages for PWDs is also ableist in nature, for the proposal seeks to infantilize PWDs despite that not all of them are necessarily incapable of making decisions. Furthermore, it degrades the sense of responsibility, justice, and accountability that all of us, whether disabled or nondisabled persons, should learn upon. Lastly, it merely symbolizes that the PWDs should be limited to charity and social welfare services despite that as persons, they still have the dignity to decide for themselves.

Rather than restricting alcoholic intake for PWDs, the government should propose strengthening supported decision-making for PWDs, not just in health care like those provided in the Mental Health Act but also in other personal decisions like this scenario regarding alcohol intake. In supported decision-making, it recognizes that the PWD needs some help in deciding, so he gets some supporters, including friends, classmates, or any person he trusts. However, the final decision should rest upon the PWD himself.

Let us push an agenda for the PWD community so that they would feel the sense of dignity and autonomy that breaks free from the societal restrictions imposed by society and the system.

Ronald G. De Guzman Jr., [email protected]

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TAGS: alcoholic beverages, PWDs
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