NGO promotes PWDs’ role, rights in 2016 election

Through the Active Citizens with Disablity Project, the Philippine Accessible Deaf Services Inc., or PADS, continues to mobilize its network of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and other non-government organizations in Cebu for the involvement and participation of Cebu’s PWDs.

This means that PWDs are encouraged to exercise their right to suffrage as they are a crucial  part of the electoral process.

PADS and Cebu Citizens Involvement and Maturation for People Empowerment and Liberation (C-CIMPEL) signed a memorandum of agreement committing to support each other in further advancing the rights of PWDs in the 2016 presidential race.

Cebu province co-organized the event through the office of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).

According to these NGOs, PWDs seemed hesitant about participating in the electoral process because of how they and their families are regarded as objects of pity or as society’s burdens. Persons with disabilities need understanding and patience, regardless of their physical handicap, they said. The also emphasized that despite physical and mental shortcomings, they are still human beings deserving of treatment extended to persons with no disability.

Data obtained by Fully Abled Nation or FAN shows that four percent of 18.8 million households have a physically-challenged family member.

In the 2013 elections, 191,672 PWDs registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but only 142,002 actually voted.

Data obtained by FAN and PADS shows that 46,673 PWDs in Cebu as of October 2015 registered with the Comelec. The numbers, according to these NGOs, show how much has yet to be accomplished toward empowering PWDs.

To help guide and empower PWDs, FAN focal person Chadwick Go Llanos educates them on the indicators that make good leaders in government. He said PWDs and the electorate at large should be guided by certain indicators of good governance based on the C-CIMPEL campaign: One Good Vote is a Vote for Good Governance.

A good candidate is an advocate of participatory government, espouses equity for PWDs and persons with no disability, an advocate on accountability, consensus-oriented who listens to other views and opinions, effective and efficient, transparent, adheres to rule of law, shuns bureaucracy, and possesses tenacity.

Comelec Provincial Officer Ferdinand Gujilde added that PWDs should not be marginalized, stating that they should be afforded the same rights like persons with no disabilities at all.

The affair at the Capitol Social Hall was capped by a declaration and signing of commitment of FAN and PADs partners. Similar efforts were started, as early as the 2013 elections.