PWD grade for the Aquino administration
I have asked PWD (persons with disability) leaders to grade the Aquino administration’s efforts for the sector. We are in the season of evaluation, prompted by President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, and I do not want the sector to be excluded again from the reports.
It is good to start gauging the government’s PWD work. It is an opportunity to pin down on a scale our values and ideals and measure our efforts’ proximity from them. You might find the grades given ridiculous. But these emerged when the government’s efforts were weighed against what are deemed due Filipino PWDs. You may give your own grade for comparison.
Most of what are due PWDs are articulated in our laws and especially in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, although some are still unexpressed and even difficult to articulate.
In an Asia-Pacific disability congress last year, the President pledged PWD-inclusive growth. He highlighted the bottom line of his administration’s efforts—equitability for all. Has the government worked for PWD inclusion? Has it progressed toward it, or has it regressed?
I asked eight leaders of four disability subsectors to grade the two top officials, the two chambers of congress, the Supreme Court, two constitutional commissions and 18 agencies under the executive. The leaders used a -100 to 100 scale: 0 for the official/agency “noynoying” (sleeping on the job) for PWDs; 50 for those who have done satisfactory work; between 0 and 50 for those who have done token work; 100 for those who have done great work; and -1 to -100 for those who have done something detrimental to PWDs.
The eight leaders work for PWD empowerment, are active in PWD networks and are collaborating with the government on PWD efforts. They were chosen for their unique vantage positions aside from being, I suppose, sane and moderate.
Five leaders—three men and two women—responded, and only from the deaf, developmental disability and mobility impairment subsectors. Three are PWDs themselves.
Now to the grades, damnation first. Five agencies received negative grades from at least one evaluator but the agencies’ averages were above zero.
The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) received a -100 from an evaluator. Four months after the President announced his pledge of inclusive growth, the Philippines made itself notorious in Geneva as the only country that took exception to the resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council against PWD discrimination.
Columnist Raul C. Pangalangan wrote an angry commentary on that (Inquirer, 4/12/12). Apparently, the Philippine representative in the council did not know about Mr. Aquino’s pledge for PWD inclusion and equitability for all.
The CHR (Commission on Human Rights) also received -100. According to the evaluator, the CHR has been sitting on the rights violations reported by PWDs. It was thus perceived to be “noynoying.”
Also found “noynoying” was the NAPC (National Anti-Poverty Commission), which was given a -50 rating; DBM (Department of Budget and Management), -1; DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), -50; and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry), -50.
They were found doing nothing or merely token work for PWDs, adversely affecting PWDs’ lives.
All of those graded got positive average scores but DTI and DOLE received scores below 10. CHR followed with a score of 13 and NAPC with 17.5.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and President Aquino followed these agencies with grades of 22.5 and 23.75, respectively.
The score for DFA was next at 22. The evaluators did not confine themselves to the effrontery in Geneva. They also recognized DFA’s efforts to hire more PWDs in its operations and the support it has given to PWDs traveling abroad. In fact, DFA received high scores from two evaluators.
Now, to the passers. Of the evaluated, only three agencies received passing average scores. At the bottom was NCDA (National Council on Disability Affairs), with a score of 51.8. I expected it to get a high score since working for the sector is its specific mandate. Sadly, NCDA seems not to have done enough.
What about the Department of Social Welfare and Development, under which NCDA was transferred by the President? It got a mere 41.4.
The House of Representatives and Commission on Elections (Comelec) received the two highest average scores at 58 and 60.8, respectively.
A few representatives have been working with PWD groups in filing bills beneficial to the subsectors. But the passing of the bills has been such a struggle, and consultations with the sector insufficient (thus the not-so-high score). An evaluator also noticed that only a handful of representatives had PWD programs.
The Comelec got the highest score primarily because of its 3-year work to ensure the inclusion of the 2.7 million PWD voters in the elections. The program was launched a month after the DFA’s blunder. At least one agency is working toward the inclusion of PWDs. Imagine an election in a democratic country where 2.7 million of its citizens are excluded from voting!
But the grade for the Comelec is still not high enough. Its unjust rejection of a PWD party’s application for representation in the last elections is still fresh in the minds of PWD leaders.
The PWD average grade for the Aquino administration is 33. So what’s yours?
Roberto S. Salva is the executive director of the Catholic Ministry to Deaf People Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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